Today’s Reading: Mark 2:13-3:6 (additional reading: Psalm 36:1-12 & Proverbs 10:1-2)
One Sunday evening, William Booth was walking in London with his son, Bramwell, who was then 12 or 13 years old. The father surprised the son by taking him to a tavern! The place was crowded with men and women. Some of them were drunk. Some of them were loud. And the air was filled with the smell of alcohol and tobacco.
Bramwell said to his dad, “Can we go now? Why did you even bring me in here?” General Booth said, “Son, these are our people; these are the ones I want you to love. These are the people I want you to live for. These are the people I want you to bring to Christ.” Years later, Bramwell wrote, “That was a lesson I never forgot.”
It’s a lesson still worth learning today. And it’s the lesson we learn from Jesus here in Mark chapter two. The passage is a beautiful picture of our Lord’s compassion and love for lost people.
Let’s look at Levi. The Pharisees had a rule that if a Jewish man took a job as a tax collector, he was kicked out of the synagogue, and ostracised by the community. When they saw Levi, they would have said, “Levi is a traitor to Almighty God! He’s the worst kind of sinner there is! He’s a loser!”
But when Jesus saw Levi, he saw a lonely man who needed a Saviour. He saw someone who desperately needed something else to live instead of taking other people’s money. And so Jesus extended an invitation to this lonely outcast and said, “Follow me! Society may have rejected you. But I’m not going to reject you. Come Levi, and fulfil your destiny at my side. Come and follow me!”
Sometimes, we hold back from inviting other people to church because we think, “They’re not going to be interested. They are so set in their ways and so caught up in their own little world that I can’t imagine them showing any spiritual interest at all.” But this story reminds us to never underestimate the power of God. There’s no one in this world that God can’t save. When you introduce someone to the Lord Jesus, you never quite know what’s going to happen.
The fact that Levi DOES leave everything to follow Jesus, then invites all his friends. We can never limit the change that God will make in someone’s life.