Today, Jesus calls another follower: a tax collector named Levi (Matthew). For the Jews, a tax collector represented corruption, greed, and collusion with the enemy—Rome. Their profession was not popular, and whatever power and status they had was resented. In fact, even some of Jesus’ current followers might not have been too enthusiastic about this one. They might have seen him as dishonest crook, a political lapdog. People of many different backgrounds and beliefs were traveling with him. The only thing that matters and unites them is their response to Jesus. Whoever receives Jesus is received by Jesus. The simplicity of this inclusion is offensive to the religious leaders. They want clear boundaries—structure and standards. When they say “sinners,” they are not really referring to moral behavior or character but rather to whether or not they fulfill their religious duties and take part in the customs. Those who don’t are “unclean” outsiders. Jesus challenges the security of this system in which the Jewish leaders have placed their very sense of self.
- Read Mark 2:13–2:17.
- Ask God for his eyes to see all people.
- See Levi’s eagerness and his hospitality. Join everyone in Levi’s house. Look around the table: who do you see? Notice these “sinners" were already following Jesus. What’s the “vibe” in the room?
- What makes Levi so ready to receive Jesus as both his teacher and his guest? What makes Jesus so ready to receive him and his social circle as his friends and companions? What makes the Pharisees so perplexed and uncomfortable?
- As you sit at the table with all these people, talk to Jesus about the people you overlook in your life. Who do you actually expect to be Jesus’ crowd and “crew?”
About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC