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Mark - Who is Christ?
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to MARK
PART 3 - The Conflict Between Jesus and the Jewish Leaders (Mark 2:1 - 3:6)

2. Jesus Calls Levi, the Tax Collector to Follow Him (Mark 2:13-17)

MARK 2:13-17
13 He went out again by the seaside. All the multitude came to him, and he taught them. 14 As he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he arose and followed him. 15 It happened, that he was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many, and they followed him. 16 The scribes and the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus loved repentant sinners who longed for the truth rather than the teachers of religion who fancied their empty self-righteousness and did not recognize that they were not right before the Holy God. Every true believer is aware of the condition of his unclean heart, for the Spirit of God shows us our corruption and our inability to reform ourselves by our own efforts.

Dear brother, before God you are guilty, and evil from your youth. Come to Jesus, the embodied love filled with purity and truth. In the light of his face, you recognize the darkness of your heart, and before his mercy, your selfishness shows up.

Jesus loved the repentant sinners, no matter how their sins had accumulated, or to which class they belonged. He did not send them away. As such, he will not send you away, but will receive you as the father embraced his lost son when he came back home.

Tax collectors at that time were hated by their fellow citizens because of their service to a foreign overlord and their fraudulent practices. They became rich because of corruption in the execution of their office, oppressing, exacting, taking bribes or fees by extortion, and accusing falsely. This is why they were hated and despised by all the people more than any other class.

Yet, even the thief has a moral sense of right and wrong. The embezzler’s heart is not empty from longing to God. Jesus read the thoughts in the heart of Levi who was standing near the tax office, and gave him the chance of his life, calling him with the words: “Follow me.” The Son of God does not care for taxes and treasures. He struck at the heart of the despised tax collector, and moved him with one word from the realm of matter into the realm of the Spirit, love, and truth.

Levi did not dare to follow Jesus spontaneously, for he was disliked by everyone. But as a tax collector, he knew people, and found in the Nazarene a person who excelled all the persons he had ever met. He longed for the fellowship of Jesus, but was ashamed of his fraudulent practices. Yet, the Lord who passed by him read his thoughts, and faced him with the words: “Follow me.” This word signified a chance of justification to the tax collector. So he immediately held fast to the Lord’s word, left his treasures, rights, and office, and dared to follow the Lord of the worlds. He knew from his experience in tax collection that Jesus had no money, but love and heavenly power.

In his excessive joy, he dared to invite Jesus and his disciples to his house. Among the guests there were rich men and adulterers. This was the chief plan Matthew aimed at in this invitation, that he might give his old associates an opportunity to repent and be saved.

Because Jesus confronted the thief, and sat with people of the lower class, this gave the lawyers and the Pharisees in Capernaum an opportunity to talk behind his back, for Jesus’ behavior was not in conformity with their ideas of holiness and lifestyle. They condemned Jesus in their hearts and warned his disciples, as if Jesus were unaware of the reputation of the castaways who sat with him.

But Jesus, who knows the heart, exposed the pride of the scholars, and showed them that all men are sick in themselves. However, some know this truth, whereas others consider themselves as right, good, and righteous. But those righteous ones are not, before God, better than the castaways, for whoever allows himself to break one commandment is guilty of breaking the whole law. There is no difference “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

What do you think of yourself? Are you good or evil? Do you consider yourself better than the worst man of your town? Do you know that in you would have dwelt the potential of all sins if the grace of the Lord had not kept you from falling? If you considered yourself as righteous and acceptable, Jesus would not help you. His promises are only entitled to those who are repentant, brokenhearted, and poor in spirit. They will be the chosen ones if they repent and become aware of the reality of his presence.

Thereafter Levi’s name was changed to Matthew. The apostles, after Christ’s death and resurrection, asked him to gather and write the Lord’s words, for as a former tax collector, he was skilful in writing different languages. He no longer collected money, but the word of God, and enriched us with the riches of his Lord who calls you too, saying: “Follow Me.”

PRAYER: O saving Lord, we thank you that you did not despise Levi, the tax collector, but heard the voice of his heart, and gave him the divine order: “Follow Me.” Lord, I am not better than Levi. You know my thoughts, my words, and my previous works. Please forgive my pride, dreams, impurities, and love of money. Free me from involvements with material concerns, not only me but also my friends who long for your holy word. Thank you for your love and patience with us. Amen.


  1. What is the significance of Jesus’ sitting with tax collectors and sinners?

A Verse to memorize:
“Those who are well have no need of a physician,
but those who are sick.
I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Mark 2:17).


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