Life-Study of Markby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Scripture Reading: Mark 2:13-17
In the foregoing message we pointed out that in 2:1—3:6 five incidents are recorded to show how the Slave-Savior as the Slave of God carried out His gospel service to care for the need of fallen people: forgiving the sins of the sick (2:1-12), feasting with sinners (2:13-17), causing His followers to be merry without fasting (2:18-22), caring for His followers’ hunger rather than for religion’s regulation (2:23-28), and caring for the relief of the suffering one rather than for the ritual of religion (3:1-6). We have already considered the first incident, that of forgiving the sins of the sick. In this message we shall go on to consider the incident of the Lord’s feasting with sinners.
Mark 2:13 says, “And He went out again beside the sea; and all the crowd came to Him, and He taught them.” We have seen that the Slave-Savior, as the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5), came to Galilee, the land of darkness, where people were sitting in the shadow of death, and that He came as a great light to shine upon them (Matt. 4:12-16). His teaching released the word of light to enlighten those in the darkness of death so that they might receive the light of life (John 1:4) and be brought out of satanic darkness into the divine light (Acts 26:18).
Verse 14 says, “And passing by, He saw Levi the son of Alpheus, sitting at the tax office, and He says to him, Follow Me! And rising up, he followed Him.” The tax office was a toll house, where tax was collected for the Roman government. Levi, also known as Matthew, was one of the tax collectors, probably one in a high position (Matt. 10:3). The tax collectors were condemned, despised, and abhorred by the Jews (Luke 18:11; Matt. 5:46). Most of these tax collectors abused their office by demanding more than they should by false accusation (Luke 3:12-13; 19:2, 8). To pay taxes to the Roman government was very bitter to the Jews. Those engaged in collecting these taxes were despised by the people and counted unworthy of any respect (Luke 18:9-10). Hence, they were classed with sinners (Mark 2:16). Even though Matthew was a tax collector, he was called by the Slave-Savior and later chosen and appointed as one of the twelve apostles (3:18). What mercy!
The record of the calling of Matthew is very simple. He was a tax collector, one who was considered a traitor by the Jews because he helped the Roman imperialists. In the New Testament these tax collectors were classified with prostitutes. Nevertheless, such a person as Matthew was called by the Slave-Savior. The Lord simply said to him, “Follow Me!” We are told that Matthew rose and followed Him. According to the record here, it seems that this was the first time the Lord met Matthew. There must have been some attracting power with the Lord, either in His word or appearance, that caused Matthew to follow Him.
To follow the Lord includes believing in Him. No one follows Him unless he believes in Him. To believe in the Lord is to be saved (Acts 16:31), and to follow Him is to enter the narrow gate and walk the constricted way (Matt. 7:13-14).
This is not the first case recorded in the Gospel of Mark of the Lord calling people to follow Him. In 1:16 He saw Simon and Andrew casting a net into the sea. Then He said to them, “Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. And immediately, leaving the nets, they followed Him” (vv. 17-18). Soon afterward, the Lord called James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in a boat mending nets (v. 19). When He called them, they left their father with the hired servants and followed Him (v. 20). We have a similar situation in chapter two. The Lord saw Levi, or Matthew, at the tax office and told him to follow Him, and Matthew simply rose up and followed Him. His action as an answer to the Slave-Savior’s call implies his abandoning his unclean job and sinful life.
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