February 24, 2016: Someone Hated
A tax collector named Levi (v. 27).
When Hitler’s armies invaded Norway in 1940, they recruited a Norwegian called Vidkun Quisling to run the country for them. Quisling’s name has now come to mean anyone who turns to his own advantage the chance to betray his own people by collaborating with the enemy.
Levi was just such a collaborator—a Jew collecting taxes on behalf of the Romans who had taken over his country, and benefiting himself in the process. Paradoxically, it was precisely because he was Jewish that patriotic Jews regarded him as a rank outsider. The leper was a sad character; the tax collector was a bad one. Who of God’s people would be prepared to accept such a quisling in their company?
Jesus would. For he knew that if Levi responded to his call, it would mean he had “left everything” that had made him such a bad man. In a word, he would have repented. Restoring the sick to health is one way of describing what Jesus came to do; bringing sinners to repentance is another way—an even more exact and necessary description.
And notice what follows. Levi is the kind of outsider we really would not want to have in our fellowship. But once Jesus brings him in, we may find he is better at outreach than we are!
Prayer: Lord, give me a penitent heart and such an evangelistic vision.
Today’s devotional was written by Michael Wilcock, a retired pastor in the Church of England. This Lenten series comes from Words of Hope, whose mission is to build the church in the hard places through media. To learn more about the organization or subscribe to Words of Hope’s daily devotions, visit www.woh.org.