Today was the first day back to work after a wonderful 4 days off. Things are super busy at work and it could be argued that I could not afford to take time off…but I did. One thing that made it easier was a blessing from God. I have a very large and involved contractual document I needed to turn into the Government by 24 MAY 2023. The morning I took off from work (THURS) I asked my counterparts on the government team whether they would allow me to extend the submission date a week and THEY AGREED! There is good reason from them to as they just had a new person start that is coming up to speed and it will provide he and I more time to align on some of the direction before submitting. I was soooo thankful and I know it was the Lord’s mercy and gift to allow me to focus on my wife and our church at the Pastor/Elder Retreat I attended with her.
And after this, Jesus went out and looked [attentively] at a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office; and He said to him, Join Me as a disciple and side with My party and accompany Me. And he forsook everything and got up and followed Him [becoming His disciple and siding with His party]. Luke 5:27-28 [AMP]
I remember watching The Chosen and the writer’s depiction of Levi (Matthew) who they portrayed as a brainiac math wizard who had some ADHD/Autism aspects about him. They showed Levi having a lot more watching of Jesus and being familiar with Him than what I can find in God’s Word…however, I could totally see how Levi might have had some knowledge of Jesus before He called him to follow.
Under contract with either the tetrarch or more local officials, Galilee-based tax collectors collected sales taxes, real-estate taxes, and toll taxes imposed along travelling routes between cities. It was a role that lent itself all too well to extortionary practices. Given the high degree of contact between tax collectors and Gentiles in this profession, the stricter Jewish sects would have considered tax collectors inherently unclean, much like the man with leprosy we read about yesterday. Like the fisherman called in 5:11, Levi is led to leave everything behind and ‘follow Him’. For Luke, following Jesus means leaving everything behind, not for the sake of duty or for the sake of sacrifice itself, but simply because Jesus says, “Follow Me”.
So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.Luke 14:33 [AMP]
Like what was said above, it would not be a trivial thing for Levi to just leave his post; being assigned to a local official would come with some lose ends as he just stepped away. In the ‘The Chosen’, they show that Levi has a centurion assigned to him; but more than likely the soldier was assigned to guard the money and keep an eye on the tax collector and maybe even being his ‘heavy’ in needed circumstances.
Levi (Matthew) had no hesitation in dropping everything and following Jesus…even when it meant likely earthly ramifications. Levi didn’t care about those things in the moment. Do I have this loose of a grasp of my worldly possessions, job, or standard of living? As a person who has been blessed with a measure more than most, I must constantly be asking myself whether I am doing everything I can to be a conduit for God’s Kingdom building work? I need to be listening for the voice of God in my time in prayer and in His word everyday if I am indeed ‘Following Him’. Clinging close to the Spirit within me and tuning my ear to the sound of the Shepherd is the only way to be sure that I am standing, walking, or even running the narrow road of obedience.