“And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom and he said unto him, follow me.
And he left all, rose up and followed him”. Luke 5:27-28
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty not many noble, are called”. I Cor. 1:26
Christianity is a call, an invitation to follow Jesus Christ, many Christians often refer to the call as a call to a special ministry service, yes, there is a call to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, but the divine order is this; we are called firstly to follow Christ. To become disciples, imitators of Christ, before we are called to serve him, notice the apostles were first disciples ( followers), before they became apostles (sent ones).
Levi was a publican, a very hated man among the Jews; he was also a tax-collector, much like the local govt officers of our day who extort and cheat people, but Jesus called him to follow. The gospel of Jesus is not for the good and the holy, it is for the unworthy, the unrighteous, for sinners, and for the wicked. It is the gospel that makes unholy men holy, that make saints out of sinners.
Jesus himself said,
I am not come to call the righteous unto repentance but sinners.
So the call is for the unworthy and the sinful, indeed it is for everyone for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, there is none righteous, no not one,
Levi was a religious man, but he was a religious sinner, there are religious sinners as well as non-religious sinners, all are called to follow, to forsake the old sinful life and receive a new life through Jesus Christ.
This is why Jesus came, died and rose up from the dead, so that all who choose to follow him may partake of his death and experience the resurrection.
Christianity is not about attending this church or that church, it is a call to follow Jesus, to follow Jesus means to walk after Jesus, with the purpose of imitating his life, adopting his values and becoming like the one whom we follow, this is the invitation we have all received when we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
‘Be ye therefore followers (imitators) of God as dear children.
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour’. Eph.5:1-2.
Jesus calls us all individually to follow him, even as we hear the gospel in the midst of a multitude, the invitation is to us as individuals, how we respond to the call is important, Levi heard the call ‘Follow me’, he understood what it meant, he was willing to follow.
You will find this same example in the way Jesus called individuals, whether it was John James, Peter, Andrew or Saul (Paul)
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
Matt 4:18-22 NKJV
In Following Him, we believe He died for us, we believe He was raised from the dead, we believe He poured out His Spirit on all who believe, we believe that just as He lived for the Father so we too live for Him. In following Him we are joined to Him by faith and have become one with Him just as He was one with the Father.
We are told Levi (and indeed everyone who has ever followed Jesus) did three things, the same things we must do if we are to successfully follow Jesus, Levi left all, rose up and he followed.
Levi forsook everything, he was willing to adopt a completely different value system and life style, he held on to nothing, no opinions, philosophies or values that would hinder him from following Jesus, many fail because of this one thing, they are unwilling to leave all, there is something they hold unto, maybe a boyfriend / girlfriend, a job, a way of thinking, societal values and expectations etc.
Jesus said, if any one will be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me, popular Christianity is a cross less one, but old fashioned apostolic Christianity is the way of the cross, what have you forsaken to follow Christ?
To leave all does not necessarily imply that there is a physical separation, but it implies a readiness to separate from any potential hindrance to following Jesus.
It means being willing to deny oneself for the purpose of following Christ, one cannot belong to Christ as well as to another, it must be Christ alone or nothing, or as Jesus put it we cannot serve God and mammon, we will have to choose one, every time Christ calls there is always something to forsake, to leave behind, there is a price to following Christ, if we are willing to pay the price then we will gain the prize which is Christ himself.
Levi, was a defeated man, successful in worldly terms yes, but defeated, defeated by sin, weighted down by discouragement and guilt, but when he heard the call he threw off the garment of heaviness and decided to rise, to take action, to respond, you too must decide the same, God has come to us, now we must go to him, the prodigal son said;
‘I will arise and go to my father’, you too must rise and come to Jesus.
It matters not where you are when Christ calls, what matters is what you do when He calls.
Levi did not only leave all, and rise, he chose to follow Jesus, this was not about attending church, it was about walking after Jesus, if there is something we must decide to do, it is to follow Jesus. Sometimes as believers after many years of following Christ, we can get lost on our way, lost in the church activities, lost in the motions of religion and we lose sight of Jesus or at best we follow him from far off, some never even began the journey of following Christ, they followed a church or some religious personality, this may be the one single reason why the church has little impact today, we need to rediscover our call to follow Christ and follow Him, forsaking popular Christianity, and all its attendant distractions.
Following Jesus is not about becoming successful or popular, it is about deciding to do His will in all things. We have an assurance and a promise; I will make you fishers of men. Jesus promises to make us what He is a fisher of men and a lover of God.
Following Jesus in not becoming a Church worker or even preacher, it is forsaking our lives and embracing His, it is choosing to walk in His word and after His example by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is alive; He is a person, the Lord of all and not just a doctrine. Today the Holy Spirit through the Word of God brings Jesus to live in our hearts; we have his words the same words He spoke to those who heard Him.
Following Jesus is walking the narrow way, the path of the cross, the way of selflessness. Jesus said many are called but few are chosen, the chosen are the relatively few out of the thronging multitudes in our Churches and in the world, which have made up their minds to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus is choosing to believe in Jesus and in His words and placing them above every other consideration in our lives.
This is the path of life, will you follow Him today?
God bless you as you do