7621 - The Call of Matthew


Jesus calls people from all walks of life to follow Him. Even those professions that are scorned by society.

In our study today Jesus calls a Jewish man by the name of Levi to join his followers.

I will read Luke 5:27-32. Listen:

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, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and `sinners'?"

Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

In those days some people had Roman names in addition to their Jewish name. Levi was also known as Matthew as he’s called in the book of Matthew, which he authored under the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Levi was a Jew who worked for the Romans as the area’s tax collector. Capernaum was an important custom post on the caravan route between Damascus, in the northeast, and the coast of the Mediterranean. Most Jews had no respect for these collaborators with the Romans, since some overcharged the people and kept the profits.

Everyone in Capernaum knew Levi for he sat at the tax booth. This was an elevated platform or bench. Jesus, no doubt, had previously seen Levi and possibly talked with him, since Jesus had often traveled and ministered in this area, close to the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Likely Levi was familiar with Jesus because by now he was a public figure and people everywhere were interested in him. After all, Jesus healed the sick, commanded demon spirits to leave people, and restored health to the paralyzed. He was interested in people.

Earlier Jesus called some fishermen to follow him. Those fishermen had known Jesus and spent much time with him before that moment when he called them to be his disciples. So it’s very reasonable that Jesus and Levi had shared time together before Jesus called him to become his disciple. The impressive thing is that Levi asked no questions. He got up, left everything and immediately followed Jesus.

Many of the people who are blessed by God give immediate response to his commands. Abraham responded promptly to God’s command to go and offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Joseph responded immediately to the angel of the Lord who instructed him to take Mary and baby Jesus to Egypt.

Levi joins the list of those who were immediately obedient. He left his high position with the Romans in order to follow Jesus.

Soon Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and many tax collectors were guest. Pharisees also were present. As they looked over the crowd their prejudice against associating with sinners led them to complain to the disciples of Jesus that he would stoop to eat and drink with these tax collectors and sinners.

Jesus did not leave the opportunity for answering to his disciples, but He himself replied to these self-righteous ones, “The healthy are not the ones needing a doctor, but sick people.” Then he added a statement, which gives all of us great insight into His purpose on earth. He said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

These Pharisees considered themselves righteous, so Jesus was censuring them for believing only lowly people needed cleansing and new life. The truth is that every person is sick in sin and needs what Jesus was offering—spiritual healing.

Jesus was saying to all, “I am the great Physician. I offer every person spiritual healing. Do not be so calloused as to refuse.”