Google+ 01/30/13 Preaching Tax Collectors?

Mark 2:13-14

 

Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore 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. 

 

As you open up this daily devotion, you might wonder why God had me choosing this passage of Scripture to share with you.  These two short little verses speak volumes to us that we might overlook in our Scripture study.  This gospel is written by John Mark.  Yes, I said John Mark!  We, through history, have shortened his name to just Mark.  John Mark was the son of Mary, a woman of some means in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12).  He was also Barnabas's cousin.  Both Barnabas and John Mark participated in the early stages of Paul's first missionary trip.  Peter had great influence over John Mark (1 Peter 5:13).  So, a comparison of Mark's Gospel and Peter's sermons in Acts will find you believing that these two spent much time together!  Mark's Gospel seems to be written primarily for the large Gentile audience in Rome, which probably accounts for the various Latin terms found scattered throughout his Gospel.  With the historical background now having been explained, let's look at our Scripture carefully.  First, Mark tells us that Jesus is back at the lakeshore again, teaching.  The "lakefront" was most assuredly the Sea of Galilee.  This area would have been the source of many people coming and going at all times.  By now, people had heard of Jesus and came out to hear Him teach and preach.  Another indication that this was the "place to be" is that, as Jesus is walking by, He comes upon a "tax collector booth."  No, at the Sea of Galilee the people were not filling out 1040EZ forms!  They would have been taxed as they earned their wages, obtained property, or benefited from a barter arrangement.  The people of Galilee would have walked a wide path around this "tax collector booth!"  So, Jesus is walking along and sees Levi in this booth.  Jesus doesn't avoid him.  Jesus doesn't chastise him for what he is doing.  Jesus sets an example that we must all follow, even if we are not comfortable with it.  Jesus tells Levi to "follow Him and be His disciple."  Are you kidding me?  Levi, who by the way is Matthew, is not worthy.  The people around Jesus must have gasped at loud.  Jesus just reached out and ministered to a tax collector, one of the biggest sinners of all?  Yes, Jesus did, and we would all be well advised to follow His example.  Now don't miss the last part.  What does Matthew do?  Matthew doesn't argue, question, negotiate, or tell Jesus about the problems that would be created if Matthew became a disciple.  Matthew doesn't form a committee to discuss Jesus' proposition.  Matthew doesn't tell Jesus that he will get back to Him in a couple of weeks.  Scripture tells us that Levi simply got up and followed Him.  So, if we as Christians and churches want people to follow Jesus, we must go to the "lakeshore" where the crowds are.  That is probably not inside four church walls.  We must teach and preach to the people that are at the "lakeshore" so that they know about Jesus.  We must then simply tell them (not ask) to follow Jesus.  Our Scripture tells us if we are that clear in the name of Jesus, our "Levis" will get up, and leave whatever they are doing, no matter how lucrative, and follow Jesus.  You may be asking yourself, "It can't be that easy, right?"  But have you ever tried it?  The power of our Triune God is awesome.  When I preach and teach, I call on the name of Jesus. I give Him the honor and glory which He deserves.  That's why we call it evangelism!  Try it today.  As you are strolling by the "lakefront," stop by the "tax collector booth."  Don't make small talk.  Just explain that Jesus wants the "tax collectors" to follow Him.  As you continue your journey, don't be surprised when you look back and there are people following you.  This line of people behind you are all those that said "yes" to Jesus.  Often "tax collectors" make the best preachers!