Missing Some Details: Luke 5:27-32

Focus Passage: Luke 5:27-32 (NCV)

27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax collector’s booth. Jesus said to him, “Follow me!” 28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

29 Then Levi gave a big dinner for Jesus at his house. Many tax collectors and other people were eating there, too. 30 But the Pharisees and the men who taught the law for the Pharisees began to complain to Jesus’ followers, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy people who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to invite good people but sinners to change their hearts and lives.”

Read Luke 5:27-32 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Something I never really understood while reading the gospels is how the disciples often left everything when Jesus called them to follow Him. We can see this clearly when Jesus called several fishermen, and we can see it when Jesus called Levi (also known as Matthew) to follow Him.

Luke describes this event by saying, “After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax collector’s booth. Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me!’ So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.” (v. 27-28)

Part of the reason this amazes me is that these men had occupations and were established in what they were doing. While the fishermen were part of a family business and in some ways they were their own bosses, Levi would have been better understood as an employee or a contracted worker. Leaving work without giving notice or transitioning responsibilities to a new person seems pretty unprofessional.

However, the culture was different, and I wonder if tax collectors ever reached a tipping point where they would give up fighting the society and quit their jobs in order to escape the hostility – because almost everyone hated tax collectors.

But in Levi’s case, I wonder if some of the tax collectors he invited were his superiors. I wonder if at this supper, Levi let his bosses know that he would not be returning to work the next day because he had accepted Jesus’ call.

Sometimes the gospel writers leave gaps in their narratives that prompt us to wonder what might fill in these details. However, the goal of all four gospel writers is to give us a clear picture of God through what Jesus accomplished, and if they had to edit out other details to save space, anything not directly related to Jesus would be subject for deletion.

Levi (Matthew) chose to leave a lucrative job in order to follow Jesus. Tax collecting was likely all he had and all he knew. But Jesus was more than willing to teach Matthew a new set of skills, and He is just as willing to teach us new skills when we give up our lives to follow Him. In this event, choosing to follow Jesus regardless of the cost is the key the gospels want us to know!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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