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Mark 2:13-17 Jesus Chooses Levi

Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 9, 2012


Mark 2:13-17 Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. (14) As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him. (15) Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) (16) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” (17) When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about Bible study is to review the previous texts before examining the subject texts. Mark’s book is a good example. When I look at the sequence of events I can see patterns developing. Lessons are often repeated. As we all know, when God repeats Himself, it is a signal to pay attention.

 

One of the details I see repeated is the presence of the religious leaders. The leper Jesus healed presented himself to the priests. We are not told the details, but if the priests performed a public ceremony, an offering for being healed as Jesus instructed, the priest would have publicly recognized Jesus as a prophet, or more. They would have endorsed Jesus’ new ministry.

 

It makes sense to assume the priests would have investigated the matter. This is why we begin seeing religious leaders of one form or another showing up where ever Jesus taught. Maybe this is why Jesus sent the leper as a testimony? Was this Jesus’ way of inviting the religious leaders to hear Him speak?

 

Religious leaders were at the crowded house where Jesus healed the paralyzed man. The religious leaders spoke out against Jesus’ ability to forgive sin. They called it blasphemy. Jesus responded with a question. Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:9-11)

 

Mark chapter two also records the story of Jesus calling His fifth disciple.

 

Then Jesus went out to the lake shore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him.

 

We immediately begin to see similarities between Jesus calling His first four disciples and the fifth. Both times Jesus walked along the shore. The first time be called two sets of brothers, all fishermen. This time Jesus calls a individual man, a tax collector. Why do we see some similarities followed by contrasts? The first four lived in the same fishing village. They may have been friends, but at the same time competed for the same fish, the same income. It was normal for people to help one another in a fishing village. This was a quality important to the ministry Jesus called them to.

 

What about a tax collector? What qualities did Levi bring to the ministry? Tax collectors are often shunned, rejected by society, especially the Jews. They were looked down upon and accused of conspiring with the enemy, Rome. To us it would appear Levi would have been detrimental to Jesus’ early ministry. So why did Jesus call a tax collector? Does Mark provide an answer?

 

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.)

 

Jesus was not looking for people with superior qualities. Levi had one quality Jesus was looking for. Levi understood Jesus and wanted to share what He taught with his friends. Matthew was willing to tell people about Jesus. Is there a quality better anyone could ask for than a personal referral? After all, isn’t that one of the main qualities Jesus has always looked for? How does this contrast with other guests at Matthew’s home?

 

No one hated tax collectors more than the religious leaders. They followed Jesus everywhere He went. At first they wanted to collect a little information on the man who healed a leper, and every other disease. Something about Jesus upset the religious leaders. Did they think Jesus was competing with them? Did they think they would loose followers, and financial support to someone they looked at as a mere peasant?

 

When the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

 

As a new believer I have to think this shows the type of religious support the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees provided to their followers. What was their call to service? It seems their focus was to judge and separate people. How do you call someone scum, then expect them to join your church? This seems to be normal operating procedures for many churches today. They preach long sermons about the details that separate them from the world. They attach a few Biblical terms to themselves in an attempt to convince anyone willing to listen, they are better than the rest of the world. Are these churches and preachers acting any better than the Pharisees at Matthew’s house that day? It makes me question if they are standing for or against Jesus? Do they realize how they missed the point of this and many other acted parables in the Gospels? How do you think Jesus would answer them? “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

 

Who are the healthy people? Who are the sick, and who knows they are sinners?

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