A Changed Occupation
‘He went forth, and beheld a publican, named Levi, sitting at the place of toll, and said unto him, Follow me. And he forsook all, and rose up and followed him’ (Luke 5:27, 28).
The trade between the Orient and the vast populations on the Mediterranean, passed through the Lake of Gali- lee, making a highly profitable trade for Capernaum, and the smaller cities and towns. The custom-house in which this man Levi held a lucrative position was probably quite near the lake, which was much frequented by our Lord, and thus he may have had opportunities of listening to his teaching. On the other hand, it is possible that the Saviour’s summons to him was absolutely unexpected, though it elicited an instant response, for he rose up, left all and followed Jesus. No doubt he returned later to make up his books, and hand in the balance that may have been in his charge.
Our Lord called him ‘Matthew’ – which means ‘a gift’. He was a great addition to the band of disciples, and the gift of his Gospel to the church has made the whole world his debtor. Matthew conceals, with beautiful modesty, the fact that he prepared a great feast for the Master, which was perhaps partly to signalize his adherence to his new calling, and partly as an opportunity to introduce his new-found friend to the publicans and sinners – i.e. the excommunicated persons of the city (vv. 29, 30). That feast may have been the first step to the foundation of the Christian church. Our Lord gladly availed himself of the opportunity to declare his purpose to seek and save the lost, to create a new society on that principle and to make possible the enclosure of these lost sheep with the flock.
If Zacchaeus happened to be in the party that day, it is likely that for him it was the inauguration of a new life, and as he sat there under the fascination of Christ, he resolved to make reparation to any whom he had cheated and over-charged!
Let us see to it that there is more joy in our religious life. Let us seek the people who think themselves for ever excommunicated from the church. It may be that we shall find Matthew, or Augustine, or John Bunyan among them!
O God, wherever thou leadest we would go, for thy ways are perfect wisdom and love. Blend our wills with thine, and then we need fear no evil nor death itself, for all things must work together for our good. Amen.
*Excerpted from Our Daily Walk: Daily Readings by F. B. Meyer (Christian Heritage, 2010).
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