Mark 2:14 – and as he was walking along, he saw Levi…sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him. “Follow Me.” And he got up and followed him
Levi was an unpopular man. Levi was a Jew, and he was a Jew who worked with the Roman oppressors. The tax booth, or ‘customs-house’ in some translations, was a place known for injustice and abuses of power. It was often common that such a position would have to be bought, knowing then that you could become rich profiting form your fellow Jews. Levi would have been seen as a traitor to his own people. But Jesus calls him, and immediately he answers.
John Calvin, writing on this passage, writes: “[Levi was selected] that he might be an example of Christ’s undeserved goodness, and might show in his person that the calling of all of us depends, not on the merits of our own righteousness, but on His pure kindness. [Levi] therefore, was not only a witness and a preacher, but was also a proof and illustration of the grace exhibited in Christ.”
And of all the passages in the bible, this story (in Matthew, Mark, and Luke) is one of the most special to me. Why? Because in modern English we don’t use the word ‘Levi”, we use the name ‘Matthew”. And when I hear the Lord calling my name, it resonates in my soul. Matthew followed the Lord on his ministry, wrote a Gospel that stands today, and was eventually killed for his faith. When I think of all of that, I can only pray that I have the same courage in following Christ as he calls to me in my life.
“From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and unprepared, Good Lord deliver us” (BCP, 149)