Mark 2: 13 -17
It's been awhile, but Pastor Kurt Gebhards picked up his sermon series on Mark again last Sunday. We were out of town so I listened to it online and as usual was blessed by it:
Mark 2: 13-17 13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Christ was unconventional. The people didn’t anticipate who He would be and they didn’t understand who He was. Jesus came to call the sinners, not the righteous.
Jesus taught in Capernaum because it was a major trade route and the news of what He said and did would spread. He was doing what Rabbis did back then. Walking and teaching. But the difference was, other Rabbis would gather with the most influential people in a town. Not Jesus.
Levi was a Jew and he betrayed his people by not only working for the Romans, but working in a job that stole from the Jews themselves. This made him a traitor. The very worst, very lowest person in their eyes.
In those days the Romans let people buy a tax franchise, which allowed the owner to tax anything they wanted. The more they taxed, the more they made. And the people, understandably, hated them for it.
According to the Jews a tax collector could not testify in a court of law. His very touch would make an entire house unclean. And he was banned from the Synagogue. The tax collectors were daily reminders of the oppression of the Romans.
And Levi partnered with them!
Levi would have been sitting out in the public places where he could do his business. And that’s where Jesus taught. So Levi would have heard whatever Jesus had to say. And when Jesus looked at Levi and said, “Follow me” that’s all it took. He immediately got up and followed Him. Leaving a lucrative business behind.
He left more than that behind, though. Changing his name to Matthew, which means “gift of God” showed that he was leaving all of his old life and letting his Lord take over.
Like Matthew we are being called to follow Him. We must immediately give up whatever is holding us back, repenting of our sin and follow Him completely with obedience and abandonment.
In verse 15 Matthew had a party for other sinners to meet Jesus. In those days hospitality was a sacred duty and if someone accepted your invitation for dinner it meant you were willing to become a close friend. By Jesus attending he conveyed His willingness to extend forgiveness.
Jesus pursued the company of criminals so He could extend the gospel. He is still looking for the outcast. He is looking for us!
Labels: Gospel of Mark