Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 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. Mark 2, verses 13-14.
Follow…what does it mean to follow? I mean, I follow the news. We follow people on Facebook. Kids play Follow the Leader. “Will you follow,” was the message from “Braveheart.” But what does it mean to follow?
Consider Levi, also known by the name of Matthew, who became Jesus’ disciple. Levi was a tax collector, meaning he was the dirtiest of the dirty in Jesus’ time. Tax collectors were treacherous scum who collaborated with the Roman occupying force to defraud people of their money. Very often, the tax collectors of Jesus’ time would extort much more from taxpayers than what was simply owed. Like now, when the tax man calls on you, you pay. They were lying, conspiring, powerful cheats. This was the kind of man who Jesus encountered on His walk beside the lake.
Jesus spoke to Levi/Matthew, and immediately Levi/Matthew got up and followed Jesus. Levi didn’t go home to put things in order. He didn’t say “first let me do something.” He didn’t go to buy a new pair of sandals. No, immediately – right there and then without delay – Levi left his job as a tax collector and walked away with Jesus.
Go ye (we) therefore and do the same, right?
Yes, because Levi wasn’t intimidated by the fact that Jesus was a prophet and rabbi of growing fame and stature. And we shouldn’t be either. Jesus had spoken to Levi and touched him deep inside, addressing Levi’s deepest need: the need to be loved. Nobody loved the tax collector, not even the Romans who oversaw his vocation. Yet Jesus loved him. Jesus loved Matthew enough to say “I want you with me right now, out of the life you’re living because there’s so much more than this. There’s me. I want you, Levi, to be with me. Follow me.”
So Levi did. Where Jesus walked, Levi walked. Where He rested, Levi rested. The people Levi met were the people Jesus met. You get the picture. It became a life-long friendship, namely that, for the rest of Jesus’ earthly life, Levi was one of the men by his side. And for the rest of Levi’s life, Jesus was his guide, inspiration, and Savior.
Go ye (we) therefore and live the same, right? Absolutely.
We absolutely need to do this because Jesus is calling you and me to follow Him right now, in these words, at this very moment. Maybe you already do; He’s calling you to encourage you on your walk today. Maybe you don’t know Him; He’s calling you to introduce Himself. Maybe you reject Him; He’s calling you to say He loves you, He forgives you, He wants you for just who you are. Wherever we find ourselves, Jesus is immediately calling to us, in whatever our predicament, to leave who we are now and follow Him. He promises the road we walk with Him will be worth it. It may be – no, it will be – tough, and much will be demanded of us during the walk. Yet He promises that we, like Levi, will love following Him because He loved us first.
Lord, I will follow You now, wherever You lead me Strengthen me for this journey and thank You for choosing me.
Read Mark 2, verses 13-17.