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Summary: God’s greatest gift is salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.

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“RELIGION IS MAN-MADE; THE GOSPEL IS GOD GIVEN. RELIGION IS WHAT MAN DOES FOR GOD; THE GOSPEL IS WHAT GOD DOES FOR MAN. RELIGION IS GOOD VIEWS; THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS.

RELIGION IS AN OUTER REFORMATION; THE GOSPEL ENDS IN AN INNER TRANSFORMATION. RELIGION OFTEN BECOMES A FARCE; THE GOSPEL IS ALWAYS A FORCE -- THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION.

JESUS SEES SOMEONE WHO NEEDS SUCH A GOSPEL. A MAN WHO IS PROBABLY DESPISED AS MUCH AS HE. A MAN WHO NEEDS INNER TRANSFORMATION AND WHO HAS THE ABILITY TO PRESENT THE GOSPEL IN SUCH A WAY FOR IT TO BE A FORCE –THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION.

THE MAN JESUS HAD HIS EYES ON WAS LEVI. JESUS WAS WATCHING LEVI AS HE FED COINS INTO A ROMAN TAX BOX THAT HELD THE COLLECTED FUNDS OF TARIFFS AND OTHER TAXABLE ITEMS. IT WAS LEVI’S JOB TO RECORD EACH TAX, ITS PURPOSE, AND THE NAME OF THE TAXPAYER.

WHILE LEVI’S ACCURACY WAS INTRIGUING, JESUS FOUND THE TAX COLLECTOR’S BUSINESS METHODS FAR LESS NOTEWORTHY. AT BEST, THEY WERE MOSTLY DISHONEST AND HYPOCRITICAL.

BUT JESUS’ PURSUIT FOR LEVI’S HEART HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MATERIAL FORCES SURROUNDING THE TAX COLLECTOR’S LIFE. INSTEAD, IT WAS CENTERED ON LEVI’S ETERNAL FUTURE.

JESUS KNEW THE TRUTH ABOUT LEVI, JUST AS HE DOES ABOUT EACH ONE OF US. HE KNEW OF LEVI’S PRIVATE STRUGGLES – HIS HEARTACHES AND INSECURITIES.

HE WAS AWARE OF THE TIMES LEVI STRUGGLED WITH FEELINGS OF FEAR AND LONELINESS. HE ALSO UNDERSTOOD THE TEARS LEVI CRIED WHEN NO ONE ELSE WAS NEAR.

JESUS WAS ABLE TO DISCERN THE HIDDEN LONGING OF LEVI’S HEART – A LONGING THAT CRIED OUT TO BE LOVED AND ACCEPTED BY GOD. JESUS KNEW LEVI’S NEEDS AND HE WAS DETERMINED TO SEE THEM SATISFIED.

JUST REMEMBER THAT TAX COLLECTORS WERE AMONG THE MOST DESPISED INDIVIDUALS IN JEWISH SOCIETY. THEY WERE VIEWED AS TRAITORS AND WERE HARSHLY TREATED AS SOCIAL OUTCASTS BECAUSE THEY HAD "SOLD THEMSELVES" TO THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT BY AGREEING TO COLLECT TAXES FROM OTHER JEWS.

AN EVEN GREATER REJECTION CAME AS THE RESULT OF THEIR CONSTANT CONTACT WITH GENTILES AND THEIR LACK OF WORSHIP AND SACRIFICE IN THE TEMPLE.

FOR THESE REASONS, JESUS KNEW HIS DECISION TO ADD LEVI TO HIS BAND OF DISCIPLES WOULD NOT BE A POPULAR ONE – CERTAINLY NOT WITH THE PHARISEES WHO WATCHED HIS EVERY MOVE, OR WITH THE DISCIPLES WHO WERE ALREADY FOLLOWING HIM.

BUT JESUS WAS NOT INTERESTED IN SATISFYING POPULAR OPINION. HIS ONLY INTEREST WAS TO DO THE WILL OF GOD, AND LEVI WOULD RECEIVE THE CALL.

HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF YOURSELF AS BEING CALLED OR CHOSEN BY GOD? EVERYONE HAS A CALLING! WE ARE CALLED BY GOD TO LOVE AND SERVE HIM. WE ARE CHOSEN TO BE WITNESSES OF HIS LOVE AND FORGIVENESS TO A LOST AND A DYING WORLD.

LEVI WAS NO DIFFERENT. REGARDLESS OF HIS PAST FAILURES, AND IN SPITE OF HIS PRESENT LIFESTYLE, GOD REACHED OUT TO HIM AND OFFERED HIM THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE.

IN CALLING LEVI, JESUS DID SOMETHING THAT HE HAD DONE BEFORE: HE CHANGED LEVI’S NAME. NO ONE KNOWS WHEN THIS CHANGED OCCURRED, BUT WE CAN IMAGINE IT CAME QUICKLY BECAUSE OF LEVI’S OBEDIENT RESPONSE TO JESUS’ INVITATION.


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