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Summary: Jesus calls Levi (Matthew) to follow him! (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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Ill:

• Many of you know I have been taking school assemblies all week

• At Perin’s School in Alresford, Hants UK.

• It’s been great to have between 200 and 300 young people in the sports hall;

• And to give them a Christian perspective on a particular topic.

• The subject given me was the ‘thought for the week’;

• That goes in the school bulletin (register).

• It was a quote from George Washington:

"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation;

for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company."

I think I surprised the teachers each day when I said I only agreed with half of the statement:

• The first part of the statement is very good advice:

• “Associate yourself with people of good quality”

• The Bible, especially the book of proverbs would echo similar thoughts.

• The second part of that quotation is the part I disagree with:

• “If you esteem your own reputation”.

• I shared with the young people that the Bible emphasises character not reputation.

• Reputation is what you and others think about me.

• Character is what I am.

Ill:

• You might think I am a ‘good egg’, I have a good reputation with you;

• And yet I could go home and be a rotten husband and a lousy father;

• And you not knowing that would still think I was a ‘good egg’,

• In contrast you might not think very much of me;

• But if I go home and I am a good husband and father etc

• Then my character wins despite your opinion of me.

• Reputation is what you think of me;

• Character is what God sees of me!

• Reputation is transient, it varies from person to person.

• Character is permanent, it is lasting.

• Reputation is what you and others think about me.

• Character is what I am.

We reached the point in Mark’s gospel when Jesus encounters the Pharisees:

Question: Who were the Pharisees?

Answer:

• (a). The Pharisees were an important, powerful,

• And at first, popular group of religious leaders among the Jews of Palestine.

• (b). The Pharisees were the guardians of the Jewish faith!

• Who prided themselves on strict observance of the Jewish laws, ceremonies & traditions.

• (c). At the time of Jesus there were around 6,000 Pharisees;

• (d). They were not priests more like politicians,

• (e). Many Pharisees were leaders in their local synagogues.

• And it was the Pharisees who held the power (Ill: Name for anyone who crossed them – victim!)

The word "Pharisee" simply means "separated".

• All Israelites avoided, as far as possible, any physical contact with Gentiles;

• In order to avoid being defiled.

• But the Pharisees took that idea a step further;

• They avoided all physical contact with anyone who was not a Pharisee!

• So as we are about to see;

• It was no wonder they constantly were shocked and outraged by Jesus;

• Who had regular contact with tax-collectors, prostitutes and sinners.

• He even called a tax collector to become one of His disciples!

• The main emphasis Mark show is in these next chapters is one of contrast:

• Jesus is the one who engages with sinners;

• The Pharisees as a group excluded sinners.

Ill:

• William Booth was a British Methodist preacher;

• Who founded The Salvation Army and became its first General.

• One Sunday evening, William Booth was walking in London with his son, Bramwell,

• Who was then 12 or 13 years old.

• The father surprised his son by taking him to a pub!

• The place was crowded with men and women.

• Some of them were drunk. Some of them were loud.

• And the air was filled with the smell of alcohol and tobacco.

• Bramwell said to his dad, "Can we go now? Why did you even bring me in here?"

• And General Booth said,

• "Son, these are our people; these are the ones I want you to love.

• These are the people I want you to live for.

• These are the people I want you to bring to Christ."

• Years later, Bramwell wrote,

• "That was a lesson I never forgot."

• It’s a lesson still worth learning today.

• And it’s the lesson we learn from Jesus here in Mark chapter two.

(A). JESUS & Levi (MATTHEW) (vs 13-17).

• In these verses (13-17);

• We have the calling of Levi (Matthew) to be a disciple and follower of Jesus.

• Not too much is said about Levi (Matthew) after this incident;

• So these are important verses in connection to Levi (Matthew).

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