March 15, 2014
Mark 2: 13-17
I remember once reading somewhere that one of the best pieces of evidence for the truth of the gospel is that it is such an unlikely story. If someone were going to invent a story they would most likely invent something different than what we have in Scripture. We would create something more in line with our assumptions and expectations – assumptions which the gospel completely ignores.
Take the disciples, for example. If we were going to create a story about a god coming to earth to round up a group of people to go out with him to conquer the world, what kind of men would we have him choose? Men of brilliance or strength or high accomplishment – these would be the logical characteristics. But Jesus calls ordinary people, a strange choice given the extraordinary task they will undertake.
In fact, we may say they were even less than ordinary. Levi was a tax collector. This may not evoke warm feelings for us as we approach April 15, but in the days of Jesus tax collectors were more than just an unpopular group of people; they were known crooks. Tax collectors were Jews who willing worked in cahoots with the Roman government to fleece their own people. Tax collectors were despised by their countrymen, and for good reason.
And this is who Jesus calls to be a disciple? Exactly what kind of movement is this he is starting?
It will take the rest of the gospel story to answer that question. For now the take away seems pretty simple: If Levi can be a disciple, anybody can be a disciple. Even me. I’m not a known crook, but I have more faults and foibles than I care to post on a church website. And yet Jesus still sees fit to call someone like me.
Our calling as disciples has much less to do with us than it does with God. We are not called because of our merit, but because of His. As the Apostle Paul will later say in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” A clay jar is a fragile thing, but by the grace of God our fragility becomes a place for his power to reveal itself to the world.
The good news is that if Levi can be a disciple, so can we. The bad news is that if Levi can be a disciple, we no longer have any excuses!
Lord Jesus, thank you that you have seen fit to call someone like me to follow you. Forgive me of all the excuses I make as to why I cannot do what you have asked. And help me to trust that your power working through me is greater than my weakness and faults. By your power I pray, Amen.