January 12, 2022
The Year of our Lord, Jesus Christ
And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphæus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
In the book of Matthew (9:9), it’s writer (Matthew) identifies himself as Matthew when the Lord Jesus’ called to him “Follow Me.” In Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27, these writers identify him as Levi. Perhaps there is something to learn here.
The name Levi is Hebrew in nature (Levi being one of the twelve tribes of Israel) and means “Joined or adhered.” He joined the Roman government as a tax collector, doing the bidding of that oppressive regime toward the Hebrew people. The name Matthew means “Gift of Jehovah.” Mark and Luke identify him as Levi, but he identified himself as Matthew. On a side note, make sure to understand, there is no error in the Word of God here. None of the three state that Jesus called him Matthew or Levi at the time of his calling. They describe the scene by saying …he saw Levi… or …he saw a man, named Matthew… They used their own knowledge of the situation when writing their gospel accounts.
That is the lesson. Mark and Luke identified this man as Levi, the tax collector. Matthew identified himself as Matthew, a gift from God. Many times in God’s calling, individuals see a person as they see them. They saw this man as a tax collector, but the man himself sees something different, Matthew saw himself as a person having received a wonderful gift. The gift of not only salvation, but also of a calling. A job, better than the job of collecting taxes (unjustly in many cases) but a job of ministry, following the Savior, preaching the gospel, and doing many wonderful works for the Lord’s namesake.
So, the next time you hear of a person who chooses to leave all and “Follow Jesus” into any type of special calling remember, you only know the superficial person, but that person knows something different. They know the workings of God in their heart, mind, and soul. They know the still small voice continually wooing them to “Follow Me.” They know the internal strife that leads them to make an external change. They know the whole person, while others just know what they see or remember of that person.
The Lord’s call to any and all to “Follow Me” is a private thing that once accepted leads to public display of change. Which often leads to the sport of second guessing. After all, how could God use him…. or her…. How indeed!
William T. Howe, Ph.D.