“After this He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’” - Luke 5:27
“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.” - W. Clement Stone
“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” - George Washington
It is obvious from reading the gospels that Jesus did not, as George Washington put it, “esteem His reputation.” Just look at the company He kept. It wasn’t those that His culture approved of and respected that He befriended. It wasn’t the rich, educated, connected or even the moral at times. The Father drew Jesus to those who were marginalized, overlooked and despised. We catch a glimpse of this by the disciples that He called to follow Him.
In Jesus’ day, it was not customary for a teacher to call his disciples. Instead, it was the other way around. Students applied to follow rabbis; and to even be considered certain standards had to be met. Rabbis were careful about who they chose to accept because the disciples were a direct reflection of their teachers. Nothing could ruin a rabbi’s reputation faster than less-than-stellar disciples.
Who and how Jesus chose His disciples was unconventional. There was no formal application…no list of criteria…no hoops to jump through. There was a simple invitation – “Follow Me.” If calling poor fishermen wasn’t enough for people to question Jesus’ sanity, calling Levi the tax collector must have done the trick. A tax collector?! Seriously? Tax collectors were the most despised class of people in all of Israel. They cheated and robbed. They were barred from the synagogues. They were considered traitors and were on the same social level with prostitutes, murderers and robbers.
The Scripture says that Jesus, “Saw Levi.” There is a name used for God in the Old Testament called, “El Roi,” and it translates The God Who Sees. Jesus saw past what Levi did - past who he was - to who He could be. While everyone else was glaring with hatred and disgust, Jesus looked with gentle eyes of wisdom and love. “Come,” He urged the swindling tax collector, “Follow Me.”
Like Jesus – and in the power of His Spirit – we must choose to see people for who they can be in Christ. There is no discrimination at the foot of the cross. Regardless of background, race, gender, social status, or even our own opinions our invitation is the same…”Take my hand. Come follow Jesus.” If we are faithful to this simple task, we will be amazed at what God will do!
Dear Father, Thank You for seeing me…really seeing past my sin. Please help me to extend the same grace and mercy to others who need to know You.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Topics: Work of Christ