INTRO: One of the places Jesus went to teach was the sea side. According to Lk 5:3, he once sat in a little ship which had been thrust out just a little distance from land and taught the people. This would make it possible for Him to be heard by a crowd of people. So, on this particular day in Capernaum, Jesus was at the sea side with crowds of people surrounding Him. Mark tells us, "He taught them." But on this particular occasion there was something special which occurred. It was His calling Levi (Matthew) to follow Him. The call of Levi led quickly to a confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees.
I. OF LEVI (MATTHEW)
A. In Mark and Luke he is Levi - in Matthew he is Matthew
1. not two different men as some claim - the narratives are the same
2. he was, as were many then, a man with two names - Hebrew & Greek
3. remember Simon Peter, John Mark, Saul Paul, etc.
B. He was a tax collector(or customs agent) - thus, he was a "publican"
1. publicans were in the employ of the Romans or their surrogates
2. and they were held in the greatest of contempt by scribes and Pharisees
3. so great was their contempt that they would have no social contact
C. When Jesus called Levi, he was busy as his work
1. this had been the case with Peter, Andrew, James and John
2. tax collectors in that day had no real guide lines - could assess amounts they chose to assess - on just about anything - often, exorbitant
3. I suspect, though, that Levi was an honest man in a dishonest profession
D. "Follow me. And he arose and follow him."
1. my guess is that Levi's place of work was near the sea side
2. such a place would have given him an opportunity to know of and hear Jesus as He taught
3. therefore, this was not an impetuous, hasty decision by Levi
E. Levi sacrificed a great deal to become the disciple of Jesus!
1. once a tax collector gave up his position, he could apparently not return
2. Peter, Andrew, James and John may have been able to go back - and I do not want to minimize their decisions to follow Jesus
3. but Matthew had nothing (in terms of employment) to which to return!
II. A BANQUET WITH PUBLICANS, QUESTIONS AND AN ANSWER
A. Apparently, Levi invited his friends and Jesus to have a meal together
1. the expression "publicans and sinners" is one used by Pharisees
2. these were not people whom the scribes, Pharisees accepted
3. the "sinners" here may well have been those who were identified as such because the Pharisees had so labeled them - outside of orthodoxy
4. but they would have also been people aware of sin and their need
5. notice the comparison in Lk 18:10-14 - this was the world of Jesus!
B. The scribes and Pharisees questioned Jesus' disciples about this
1. no self respecting rabbi of that time would have engaged in such conduct
2. and, of course, this gave the Pharisees a point of attack, criticism
3. a lesson? it is not unusual for people seeking to do good, to reach out, to come under criticism from "the righteous"
4. this was part of the "gathering storm" which would finally engulf Jesus
5. everywhere Jesus would turn there would be the questioning Pharisees
C. The answer of the "Great Physician" - Mk 2:17
1. His answer identifies sin as a great spiritual sickness
2. His answer does not identify the Pharisees as "righteous" - but they assuredly believed they were ideal keepers of the law of Moses
3. His answer does identify those who recognize their spiritual need as "sinners" - He could not help those who did not believe they needed His help
4. but He could assist those who knew their sin and saw their great need
5. what good would it have done for Him to feast with scribes and Pharisees - He invariably went where the "need" was ... and this feast gave Him a great opportunity to minister to the "sick"
D. Note in Mk 2:17 the emphasis on repentance
1. Luke's account also notes this (Lk 5:32)
2. this was the message of John the Baptist ... and it was Jesus' message
3. people who recognize they are in sin must change!
4. Jesus did not come to approve of the status quo - but to change lives
5. how has your life changed because of Jesus?
CLOSE: Levi/Matthew had to make a choice. He could have chosen to remain the tax collector ... and be forgotten in anonymity. But he chose to follow Jesus, and that choice resulted in his being forever remembered as the apostle who wrote the gospel bearing his name. Choosing to follow Jesus may not make you famous ... but it will provide you with eternal security which is better than fame!
Cecil A. Hutson
16 July 2006
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)