And as he passed by,
he saw¹ Levi the son² of Alphaeus
sitting at the receipt of custom³,
and said unto him, Follow me⁴.
And he arose⁵ and followed⁴ him.
¹) Saw, observed, and paid attention to
²) Not in all manuscripts
³) He was a tax collector
⁴) to join Him, to accompany Him, to join Him as a disciple, to become or be his disciple, to side with his party
⁵) Stood up
From other translations:
And as He was passing by, He saw Levi (Matthew) son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, Follow Me! [Be joined to Me as a disciple, side with My party!] And he arose and joined Him as His disciple and sided with His party and accompanied Him. [AMP] And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. [ESV] Strolling along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, "Come along with me." He came. [MSB] And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. [KJV] As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. [NIV] As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax-collection booth. "Come, be my disciple," Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him. [NLT] As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him. [NKJV]
Now let us see what this verse is telling us.
And as he passed by
Was passing by.
Jesus was constantly on the alert for opportunities to do good.
He saw Levi the son of Alphæus.
Matthew Levi; the apostle after this, but now a publican.
Levi (Matthew), son of Alpheus was an unlikely person to invite to become His disciple as he was a publican who collected toll for Herod Antipas, sitting at the toll-gate on the Great West Road from Damascus to the Mediterranean.
The Jews hated or despised these publicans and classed them with sinners.
The challenge of Jesus was sudden and sharp, but Levi (Matthew) was ready to respond at once.
He arose and followed Him
He had heard of Jesus and quickly decided.
Great decisions are often made on a moment’s notice.
Levi’s decision is a fine object lesson for business men who put off service to Christ to carry on their business.
I wish it were always this easy to bring people to Jesus.
That I only had to say “Follow Him”, and that people would do so…
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Levi in the toll booth is a collaborator who enriches himself at the expense of his own people.
In Israel, a tax collector was one of the greatest sinners.
We do not read that Levi suffered because of his sin. Sin makes one dull.
Jesus sees him busy with his work, which is also his greatest sin.
Greed for money is the root of all evil, perhaps in your life too? But whatever sin keeps you captive, Christ still cares about you. That is a saving glance that opens up our need: Your need? Here and now?
Whoever is seen by Him reads deep mercy in His eyes. You will never forget that experience: “He has seen me”.
After all, his compassion makes a new beginning.
He knows us, also in the misery of our soul .
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