The Call of Christ-Mark 2:13-18

Mark 2:13-18 “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.”
Marco 2:13-18 13 “Gesù uscì di nuovo verso il mare; e tutta la gente andava da lui, ed egli insegnava loro. 14 E passando vide Levi, figlio d’Alfeo, seduto al banco delle imposte e gli disse: «Seguimi». Ed egli, alzatosi, lo seguì. 15 Mentre Gesù era a tavola in casa di lui, molti pubblicani e peccatori erano anch’essi a tavola con lui e con i suoi discepoli; poiché ce n’erano molti che lo seguivano. 16 Gli scribi che erano tra i farisei, vedutolo mangiare con i pubblicani e con i peccatori, dicevano ai suoi discepoli: «Come mai mangia con i pubblicani e i peccatori?» 17 Gesù, udito questo, disse loro: «Non sono i sani che hanno bisogno del medico, ma i malati. Io non sono venuto a chiamare dei giusti, ma dei peccatori».
 
     The fame of Jesus’ healing and deliverance ministry attracted large crowds but that didn’t deter Him from calling Levi who would become one of His twelve disciples. Levi, surnamed Matthew, was the tax man employed by the Galilean ruler, Herod Antipas. Tax collecting on behalf of Rome was a lucrative but crooked business and obviously despised by the Jews. Matthew was probably not really happy about his vocation. When Jesus calls him, he was not out collecting revenue but rather sitting in the tax office to avoid the crowds and possibly Jesus. But when Jesus finds him, he immediately quits the business and follows Jesus. 
     The load of guilt for his actions was so great that the chance to leave it all didn’t require a lengthy decision. For some of us, the decision to follow Christ was a slow process but for others, we were ready for a changed life. There is no question that Matthew had no reservations about his decision in that he invites his former colleagues and sinners (the uneducated in religious law) to his house to meet Jesus. The intentional guest list was meant to show all and especially the religious types, two great truths. First, that Jesus would associate with anyone who would welcome Him. Religious piety and separatism would not represent the mission of Jesus to the world. Second, it showed to everyone that all people were sinners. Three times in this section the word “sinners” takes the center stage. The last two times, the Pharisees decided who was righteous and who was a sinner.
     The cutting and closing remark of Jesus emphasized even stronger this point using a well-known proverb to validate His behavior to sinners. Jesus said to the Pharisees that they had it backwards. It was the supposed ‘righteous’ who were the ‘sinners’ and the supposed ‘sinners’ who had become the ‘righteous’!    
Pray with me: Lord, I see in this passage how You care for the lost. Help me not to be wallow in piety but have the same passion to encourage sinners to come and follow Jesus.


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