Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

Will We Follow?

“As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him” (Mark 2:14).

Jesus was particular in his choices. He knew exactly what He wanted, and when He told someone to follow Him, this was no small matter because it would involve not just a little time here and there, but a total life commitment. What would have been shocking was this particular choice. Why in the world would Jesus pick a tax collector? These are the swindlers and traitors. They have terrible reputations. Yet here He is, telling Levi (Matthew) to follow Him, and Levi did just that without a complaint.

To say that this took a strong commitment from Levi is an understatement. He got up immediately and followed Jesus. There was no two week notice provided. There is no indication that he hesitated. He just followed. Why would anyone show this level of commitment? Why would we want to follow Jesus today? Here are at least a couple of reasons.

1. Those who followed Jesus would have recognized the relative value of what they were leaving for what they were gaining. When we see the big picture, we realize there is no comparison to be made between what we give up and what we gain in Christ. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matt 16:26).

2. Those who followed Jesus would have recognized their need for what Jesus was offering. They were sinners in need of repentance, forgiveness, and a new life. They knew that only Jesus offered this. Notice how Jesus indicated this need in the following discussion.

Jesus was sitting and eating with “many tax collectors and sinners,” along with His disciples (v. 15). The scribes and Pharisees were perplexed. "Why is He eating with tax collectors and sinners?" Why would Jesus do this?

If Jesus was really the Son of God, how can he associate with these sinners? This was not the behavior expected of any Messiah. Yet the problem is here. What do we expect of Jesus? What kind of Messiah and Savior do we want? Are we permitted to design our own Savior? Shall we pattern Jesus after our desires and wishes? Do we want a Savior who will refuse to be around those whom He came to save?

Jesus’ response here was to the point: “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (vs. 17).

This was a sharp strike against the scribes and Pharisees. They thought they were righteous, and because of this they did not see the need for what Jesus was offering. They already had what they thought they needed. Why would they feel the need for Jesus?

Again, disciples followed Jesus because they saw what Jesus was offering (at least at a basic level). If Levi saw himself as righteous, he likely would not have followed. If we see ourselves as already righteous, in need of nothing, then we will not follow either. If we don’t think we need a physician, we don’t go to one.

Following Jesus starts with recognizing who Jesus is, what He offers, and what we are in relation to Him. If we see ourselves as good enough, we will not follow, and this seems to be the problem that we often encounter. People see themselves as good enough. They don’t need what Jesus offers, they think. Why would they need to follow Jesus when they can fix their own issues?

We follow Jesus not because we see ourselves as righteous, but because we see ourselves as sinners in need of the Great Physician. The moment we begin to think that we are good enough, we will begin slipping away in our discipleship. Compare the attitude of the Laodiceans in Rev 3:17. They saw themselves as rich, wealthy, and in need of nothing. They did not know they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

Seeing ourselves for what we are is basic to discipleship. We need Jesus because we are sinners. He says, “Follow Me.” In these words Jesus presents a crossroads in our decision-making. To deny Jesus here is to say that we don't need Him, that we are good enough on our own. Such pride will not do and it has only lead to disaster.

Are we like Levi, ready to follow, or are we like the scribes and Pharisees who saw themselves as righteous already? Jesus came to call sinners. Do we see ourselves as being called to be disciples, or do we think we are doing just fine on our own? Every opportunity that passes answers that question.