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Such a STUPID thought that it speaks!

Jesus calls Levi the tax collector

Do you know someone who needs a new  ”name”?

Around the time that Jesus invited Matthew (Levi, the tax collector) to be one of His followers Jesus was getting a reputation for hanging out with the wrong kinds of people. “He eats with tax collectors and sinners”, they would say in disgust.

Levi lived and worked in Galilee, an area Jesus did much ministry in. I can imagine Levi hearing Jesus teach the multitudes along the sea of Galilee. I can see in my mind Levi being amazed at Jesus’ miracles. Perhaps Levi was there when Jesus told Peter to put the nets out again even though they had no luck the previous night only to catch so many that they had to call for help (Luke 5:1-11). I wonder if Levi had a deep desire to follow Jesus but knew that it would never be possible because he was a most hated traitor, tax collector?

We see Levi’s invite in (Luke 5:27-28 ESV),

“After this he (Jesus) went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.”

Which brings us to the name Levi. When we are first introduced to this man in Luke 5 he is referred to as Levi, a tax collector in Galilee. When we next see him in Luke 6 being named as one of Jesus’ 12 apostles he is named Matthew. There is a significance in that name, Matthew.

The name Levi is Hebrew which means, “to take”. Levi, the tax collector was hated by Jewish people, a traitor to his nation, a sell-out, the worst of sinners. Why the name change? His life was no longer about taking from others, but now he would become a giver. Maybe Levi, the tax collector, needed a new name to go with his new life.

I know that this might be a crazy thought to some, especially the more learned of you who follow me. Please understand that I have no theological basis for this thought as the bible doesn’t address it, just one of life, love and redemption:  Levi’s new name, Matthew, comes from the Hebrew mattija which means, “gift from God.” Maybe Jesus gave him that name so that every single time He called Him by name Levi would be reminded that he, Levi/Mathew, was a gift from His Father to Him.

Maybe Jesus changed his name so that every single time He called Him by name Levi would be reminded that he, Levi/Mathew, was a gift from His Father to Him.

Let us also not discount the message Jesus sent to His other disciples/followers with this renaming: “this former tax collector is MY GIFT from MY FATHER to ME. And don’t you ever forget it.” It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, all things have become new.” Matthew was reminded of this every time he heard his new name. So was everyone aware of his past.

Maybe you have a past. Maybe you know someone who has a past. Jesus sees you/them in the same way – a GIFT from His Father. Have you received the free gift of His salvation like Levi/Matthew did?

The next 2 weekends are #whateverittakes weekends at Vertical Church:

  • VERTICAL BLADEN, your DO #whateverittakes weekend is this weekend, September 22nd.
  • VERTICAL LUMBERTON, your DO #whateverittakes weekend is the following weekend, September 29th.
  • BOTH CHURCHES: Pray for your people everyday, Inbox us their names if you haven’t written them on the boards and Get them here on #whateverittakesweekend and watch Jesus do a miracle.

You have friends that need to hear that THEY TOO are a gift from the Father to Jesus. I’m telling you, do #whateverittakes to get them to Vertical Church over these 2 weeks!

Got something to say? Go for it!