Bible Reading: Mark 2:13-17
“And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him” (Mark 2:14)
Do you often feel that obedience is impossible? Do you lose heart because you fail to obey God again and again? The answers do not lie within ourselves. In failure or even in success, look to the person of Christ.
Mark 2:13-17 recounts the calling of Levi. Levi was a tax collector. His job included collecting Jewish taxes for the Roman empire. Tax collectors were frowned upon by society at that time because with the power that they had, tax collectors would impose high taxes on citizens in order that Roman taxes be paid and also that they would make a little profit along the way. Tax collectors were scorned for being greedy, selfish liars. Society would cast them aside, refusing to interact with them at all costs.
However, as Jesus walked past with all the crowds following Him, He intentionally stopped by Levi’s tax booth. This was a ridiculous thing to do. It would equate to walking into a brothel to meet with a prostitute in today’s time. No one would have even thought of stopping at a tax booth. They were places filled with sin. You would run away instead.
Yet, Jesus decided to confront Levi. It would have been very shameful for Levi. A righteous and holy man comes and catches him red-handed in his tax-collecting mischief. However, here we learn about who Jesus is, who our God is. He is a loving God. He was willing to humble himself to come to earth and seek out sinners individually. All of us are no better than Levi. We are sinners who rebel against God. If He has come to seek us out and confront us of our sins, how grateful we must be. It might be shameful and hard, but if God calls, respond in humility.
In shame of his sins, Levi heard Jesus say two words to him – “Follow me.” Without saying a word, Levi rose and followed Christ. At that time, the whole crowd that had followed Jesus would have been watching. Levi did not turn to them once. Instead, after personally understanding the love of Christ for him, in silence and humility, he left his tax booth behind completely and resolved to follow Christ.
The key to obedience is not in our willpower or strength. Obedience flows out of love. John 14:15 says, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments”. And, our love flows out of God’s love for us as written in 1 John 4:19, “we love because He first loved us”.
Behold God’s love for sinners. He came from heaven to earth to seek us out individually and personally. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17b). Christ is the great Physician who came to bring life to those who would trust in Him. He came to heal our sins and renew our broken hearts. What Christ came to do was to deal with our whole self. He came not just to add balm to our wound but to operate and cleanse us from our cancer that lies beneath.
“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made” (Mark 2:21). Christ came not only to patch up our sins. His kingdom is about renewing the law by fulfilling it Himself, ultimately on the cross for our sins. In our place, He died so that life may flow for us.
Obedience is a call for Him to change us. Do you want to be healed? As Jesus calls to Levi, He calls to us, “follow me”. What is our response?
Lord, I want to follow You. Sometimes I don’t know how to obey You, and many times, I hurt Your heart. Please forgive me. Work in me, Lord, and change me. I want to trust in Your love and faithfulness to me. Please help me. GIve me a deeper understanding of Your love and help me to follow You. Thank You, God. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.