This week Graham spoke to us about the call of Levi, found in Mark 2:13-17. He spoke about how Levi must have had some previous knowledge of Jesus to respond to His call to follow Him. He then compared this to how we and others must have a knowledge of who Jesus is before we/they can follow Him. He also encouraged us to be bold in what we say to others and partner with the Holy Spirit who we should recognise is at work in this world. He also spoke of the need for our obedience to the call of God on our lives.
What could possibly have be intended by Mark to include this brief account? It must be a more important detail than other incidents he could have included.
Jesus said, “Follow me.” That is all!
What did Levi think that meant? He must have heard the teaching of Jesus. He may have been pondering his response. He may have just been listening to the lakeside teaching mentioned in verse 13. It is not possible to follow out of total ignorance, but it does not require a total theological knowledge either.
I think Levi will have already been thinking about his life, his values and where he was heading. People can live with unpopularity, perhaps get used to it, but what we think about ourselves matters, and where we stand with God. It is this sort of reflection that leads to repentance and a longing for what Jesus can do. It is this sort of reflection that is too often crowded out by business, love of money or possessions, entertainments, duties, etc.
What needs to be known: To follow is to be led by another instead of leading ourselves. It may involve guidance and direction, but will also involve decision making that will fit with the wishes of the one we follow.
Previously we have read of someone who was sick in body being healed, now we read of someone sick in their life in other ways. If you are involved in work that is not what Jesus wants of you, you should get out. Like some advice I heard once, imagine you are a candle flame next to ice. If you are melting the ice you are in the right place for now. If the ice is putting out your fire you should get away from the ice.
2) The work of the Holy Spirit
This call of Jesus to follow him was the culmination of all that had been going on inside him.
We now live in the age of the Holy Spirit. As we interact with people we must take into account that any divine appointment we have may include the preparation work already done by Holy Spirit.
3) Hearing the call to follow
He has previously called a group of teenage fishermen to follow him. Some of these will write gospels that people will still be reading more than 2,000 years later. They will watch him die, witness his resurrected life and amazing departure, and will endure hardships that they might tell others. Some will even prefer to die than deny what they have seen and known. And it all began with a call to follow. When Jesus calls, and a person responds, life will never be the same again.
Previously fishermen and now a tax collector. The only qualification to be a servant of the creator God is the call – and the obedient response.
What happens after verse 15 takes place some time later. It will have taken time to invite the people and gather them in his home. Levi has had time to keep following or to turn back. He has kept following and is seen gathering his friends to meet Jesus. This is the pattern repeated down the centuries and it is now our turn to do the same, point our friends to Jesus.
There are people present who are unreceptive and critical but they have been invited there nevertheless. Levi is giving all the opportunity. It is not for us to decide who deserves to hear and who does not.
What do I know, and what do I try to get others to know?
Do I reckon to partner with the Holy Spirit instead of thinking I should do everything instead of the Holy Spirit?
I can look back to previous special encounters I have had with God, but I must still press on. I must follow and keep on following.