After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth, “Follow me,” Jesus said to him. Luke 5:27
Read: Luke 5:27-28
Listen: Luke 5
There sits Matthew (also called Levi), the tax collector. He has chosen to be an “outsider” from his people by collecting taxes for Rome. The Roman occupation of Israel is cruel, and their taxes excessive. Tax collectors like Matthew are known for overcharging to put money in their own pockets. They make it difficult for the Jews to survive. There sits Matthew caring very little about his people, consumed by his greed—but Jesus notices him and extends an invitation to follow.
In the weekend sermon Pastor Jeff Manion used the painting, “The Calling of St. Matthew” by Caravaggio, that shows Jesus inviting Matthew to come and follow him. Caravaggio illustrates Matthew’s stunned expression at the moment when he must either choose to stay, or decide to follow Jesus and leave everything in his life of greed behind.
Like Matthew, many of us feel like we’re on the outside. Maybe you have become distant with God or recently stumbled in your faith-walk. Jesus cares about people on the outside, even when we’ve put ourselves there. When called by Jesus, Matthew leaves everything and follows—we cannot ‘follow’ without “leaving.”
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
Most of us are willing to leave some things behind to follow Jesus, but not everything. Maybe you hang on to petty resentments, must always prove you are right, or look for comfort through unhealthy habits. With open hands, ask for God’s help to leave everything behind and follow Jesus.
Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.