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Daily Bible Readings

Jesus Came to Reinstate Traitors

Posted by Dan Sullivan on

[13] He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. [14] And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

[15] And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. [16] And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” [17] And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:13–17 ESV Read More

When you were born a Levite, you were a special kid. Your family was the one tribe entrusted with the things of God. There weren’t really any other defining features of the various tribes in Israel except for the one that got to be the priests and intercessors and the other 11 tribes. 

You also didn’t get named outside of your tribe. A Reubenite named Judah would be kind of like a boy named Sue. Loyalties, family ties, and heritage ran deep in ancient Israel and still does so today. 

So here is a guy named Levi who has it made living as a priest as a mediator between the people of Israel and Yahweh, their everlasting God. 

[Record scratch] Nope. 

That is what he should be doing. Instead, he is a tax collector. He is a representative of the everlasting and all powerful Roman government to Her people. Her subjects are taxed as much as 90% in some areas and kept so poor that they could never rise up against Rome, especially as they are funding Her armies to pillage, rule, and tax other lands. 

This heaps up the sin of what Levi is doing. From the great height of priesthood, he has fallen to the level of oppressive tax collector and a traitor for Rome. That shame was so great that instead of going by his given name, which basically meant “Pastor’s Kid,” he went by a Greek name that would not put salt on the wound of his Leviticalness.  

Jesus, however, doesn’t have a mindset of patriotism or greed. He is seeking Levi-Matthew because Levi-Matthew needs to be sought. 

When Matthew comes to Jesus, he realizes that shame and self-judgment don’t have a place in the kingdom of heaven. If this Rabbi is going to call a tax collector to follow Him, then anyone can follow. 

And with that, Levi returns to the priesthood.

His dinner party is the offering that becomes the intermediary between God and Mankind so that all sorts of sinners can come face to face with the living God. His food offering (ok, it’s dinner) brings the glory of God and sinners together unlike any sacrifice at the temple for about 930 years!

The truth is that Jesus is seeking to call sinners.
At a time when every sinner stayed away from the temple, Jesus brought the temple to them.
At a time when no sinner thought that God wanted anything to do with them, Jesus passed them seconds on bread.
At a time when there was no sign that there was a God in the world or that He loved people, Jesus came and sat at the traitor’s dinner table, telling stories, laughing at funny things, and bringing them face to face with God. 

Just like He does today. 

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Tags: calling, forgiveness, missions, priesthood, purpose, witness