Jesus and Levi
Translated by Allan Liang
Brothers and sisters, from today's scripture, how are we to understand what is a sick person? What is a healthy person? Which category do I belong to? At the time, many people followed Jesus as he traveled around, eager to listen to his teachings. We know that Peter, Andrew, John and James, these four professional fishermen already left their fishing nets and followed Jesus. Now, the Levi mentioned here is the very Levi who wrote the gospel of Matthew, Matthew being his later name and Levi his original name. He was a tax collector at Capernaum. At the time, tax collectors collected taxes for the Roman government, oppressing the people, and becoming the most reviled and hated among all of society. Jesus however, decided to make him his disciple. Jesus’ calling to Levi was simple “Come and follow me”. In English there are only four words, containing no promises and no other instructions, unlike the calling made towards the four fishermen. Brothers and sisters, the Bible doesn't tell us why Jesus used different ways to call his disciples, and we do not know the purpose behind it, but we know that everyone called by God becomes a Christian in their own unique way, and the path that every Christian takes to come to Jesus differs from one another. What is most important is this: We who have been called according to God’s will must carefully follow him in the walk of faith, doing so all the days of our lives until we reach the gates of heaven! The Lord Jesus called Levi and Paul in radically different ways, yet we firmly believe that God does all things with great purpose. Furthermore, we ourselves have been called, praise and thanksgiving be to our God! Levi clearly knew of his unworthiness, aside from thanksgiving, there was only more thanksgiving - inviting Jesus to come and sit in his house. Those who were there included Levi, his coworkers and his friends, people who were scorned by the general public. Jesus however, was willing to sit with them, attending to the lowly and sinful, serving them, and bringing them to the presence of God. Brothers and sisters, how did Jesus come near to Levi? The answer: as the word incarnate. Jesus, by going to Levi’s house, opened himself to them, drew them close to him, allowed them to know him and believe in him, and finally, made disciples of them! However, the scribes and the Pharisees in seeing Jesus eat with the tax collectors and sinners were greatly displeased. They themselves would never eat with the tax collectors and sinners, and even despised the notion of spending any time with the sinners, yet our Lord Jesus was willing to eat with them. When the Pharisees and scribes whispered among themselves, Jesus said: “The healthy need no physician, only the sick require healing, I came not to save the righteous but to save sinners.” Brothers and sisters, the Bible tells us that there are no righteous in this world, not even one, yet the scribes and Pharisees saw himself as righteous, thinking that they did not need Jesus. Compared to them, Levi the tax collector indeed did lack the outward appearance of righteousness, yet from the depths of his heart he truly desired to know Jesus, to believe in Jesus! Just as the story of Zacchaeus, the Son of Man came especially to save the lost and forlorn. It is not the case that there are righteous people who do not need healing of the spirit, rather we must come to understand and become aware of our own needs. The sick must first acknowledge that they are sick in order to receive the help of the doctor; sinners must first acknowledge that they are sinful in order to receive salvation from God. Those who believed that they were healthy, who were “righteous”, however, ultimately had no share in the grace of God! If they had not become aware of their sickness, these people could not have been healed, for they would not have desired to come to this sole source of life and healing. Not only is this so, brothers and sisters, we who belong to God, today still require God, our great physician, just as those who are sick require a physician. We who have already accepted Jesus, who are his disciples, still may find ourselves experiencing all sorts of weaknesses and sicknesses, making it evident that we need the enlightening of the Holy Spirit and guidance of God’s word in order for our hearts to be freed from any peculiar conditions and our faith strengthened; otherwise we will gradually walk astray. Please meditate and pray about: Levi introduced many of his friends to Jesus, his Lord who lovingly called him to be his disciple. Let us, members of the body of Christ, build up one another, serve faithfully in our respective positions, praise the Lord for leading us out of darkness into the realm of light, and together witness the glory of God!