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Lesson # Mark 2:13-17
Study Material - Mark 2:13-17
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
13 And He went out again by the seashore; and all the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them. 14 And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, 'Follow Me!' And he rose and followed Him. 15 And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. 16 And when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began saying to His disciples, 'Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?' 17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, 'It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'
Jesus was strolling along the docks and passed the customs office where Levi was employed (see more details of Levi's work in the Luke 5 study).
Here Levi is said to be the son of Alphaeus. This name is mentioned three times in the gospels. In Mark 3:18, he is said to be the father of the second James (James the Less) mentioned in the list of apostles. Not the same James as in James and John the sons of Zebedee (sons of thunder). And in John 19:25, when this Alphaeus is mentioned as the husband of Mary. One of the Mary's, of the group of women, who were present at the Cross.
Though Levi and James (James the Less) are never mentioned as being brothers, they probably were related. There is not much evidence either way to prove or disprove that they were brothers or not. But probably the mere mention of the dad's name in these three verses is enough to tie them together. The Mary of John 19:25 is also said to be the sister of Mary of Joseph and Mary. This would make Levi a cousin of Jesus through Mary his mother. Mary was a common name in that day.
What makes this interesting is that Jesus own brothers (additional children that Mary (Mark 6:3), His mother, had after the birth of Jesus) did not believe in Him initially, John 7:3. And now here we have Simon (before) and Levi (in this verse) who follow Jesus almost without hesitation. Yet his family members refused to believe in Him (initially) and they lived with Him all during His first thirty years of growing up. Jesus dad, Joseph, is not mentioned after the references to Jesus at age twelve. The assumption is that Joseph died and left Mary a widow with her sons and daughters.
Some think that Mary was a perpetual virgin all her life. That she and Joseph never had sexual relations and that is simply a false conclusion. Jesus is said to be the first born son, 'prototokos' in Luke 2. Which is yet another reference by implication that other children followed. Personally, I think that those who follow this sexless marriage idea are a little detached from reality. Looking at sex as some kind of negative in the life of Mary, and to me that seems totally ludicrous.
Now for our passage. Jesus passes by Levi's office and commands 'follow me', and Levi does. Levi is further given a new name, Matthew, 'Gift of God'. Levi is not following Jesus. He is not at the various meetings. He is at work, on the docks, checking out the various cargos that ship through the port and applying the customs taxes as required by Roman law.
Note also that Levi is Jewish, and a tax employee. These would seem a contradiction in culture and career, yet it is the chosen work of Levi. One would think that he had little respect or concern for the Pharisees and their philosophy, and thus was uninhibited in taking the tax job. Levi was a man of means as we saw in Luke 5, and certainly could throw a good party. That bent the Pharisees as well, but it did not prevent them (the Pharisees) from attending those parties!!!
Levi follows without hesitation. He leaves his former lifestyle behind. He did not sell all his assets and take a vow of poverty. Both before and after his call, he still had financial means. Again those who feel that it is of some value to live in poverty, to fast, to observe various rituals (more thoroughly discussed in Luke 5) are totally delusional. Anything that an unbeliever can do, is not part of the spiritual life. The spiritual life is not tangible, not tied to things one can do, but is more associated with ones pattern of thinking. Thinking Bible doctrine is the key to ones spiritual life, not doing things or doing without things certainly.
The Pharisees did not see themselves as in need of any kind of help. Jesus explains that only the sick are in need of a doctor, not the well. But then those of us who breath or walk on this planet (that includes us all in case you haven't figured that out) are included in that category of 'sick' from the day we are born. We are all in need of spiritual healing regardless of the circumstances of our birth (rich, poor, talented or no talent, etc.).
Jesus did not come to call on the righteous (those who see themselves as already within the realm of perfection and not in need of spiritual help, those who are more or less negative and resistant to Gods Word), but to everyone who recognizes their need and are positive toward Christ and Bible doctrine.
The Pharisees are the recognized representatives of God, or so they look to themselves in that fashion, yet they do not recognize the Son of God when he stands right in front of them, when He tells them the truth, when He shows them miracles that no human being could possibly perform.
The sinners, the tax folks, on the other hand are not the experts of the scriptures, yet they believe, even without the formal education that the Pharisees had. Many hear Gods Word but never understand it. They do not wish to. To hear and understand requires an open mind first, and a willingness to set aside ones prejudices in favor of popular philosophy.
Many a person in our current day has been raised in church's that promote quite a program of rituals. To depart from these beliefs is difficult, but possible. Preconceived ideas (which are wrong or misleading) can be overcome when one follows a consistent daily study program. Bible doctrine eventually teaches you to discern between truth and fiction, between that which is required by God and that which is required by man made rules.
Is it ok to attend parties, to drink wine, to eat all manner of foods? Of course. These things have nothing to do with the spiritual life. Your spiritual life is Bible doctrine in your soul, your residence in fellowship, your application of doctrine to your life, and so forth.
Jesus treated everyone with respect. There were no bolts of lightening, no wrath of God kinds of things. This Jesus is the same Son of God of the Old Testament. He promotes the same policy now as He did during His first Advent, and from the time of Adam, and even before in eternity past. Though we read of the various judgments of the past, they are approached through His righteousness and justice, and His grace and love. To see a clear picture of God we need to combine the entire picture of God as portrayed in the Bible. Jesus is the personable and caring aspect of God, but that does not make Him a push over, or someone who can be run over in life. He is not a wimp, He is 'El Shaddai', the All Mighty, All powerful. He is 'I Am', the eternal and infinite and unlimited resource of all things. He lacks for nothing because He is the source of all things.
This is understood, or at least these references are known by the Priests. You and I have already studied them in various passages. Yet the priests did not possess them as their own personal knowledge. They were unbelievers. And all spiritual concepts are as foolishness to unbelievers as well as negative believers.
Those who demonstrate a positive attitude and a desire to know (Simon, Levi, sinners) will hear and understand Gods Word.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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