1. Mark 2:14 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What is the significance of Jesus calling Levi, a tax collector, to follow him?

Mark 2:14 (ESV)

14 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.

There is a man in the vicinity who is not following Jesus in the deserted area along the coast. Levi, the son of Alphaeus (whose other son is the apostle James: Mark 3:18), is sitting at the tax booth (literally over or above the toll booth: Levi is the supervisor in the toll booth).

Jesus sees him as he passes by and says, Follow me! This does not necessarily mean that Levi is being called to follow Jesus permanently. But it means at least that the man who sees the crowd passing by and following Jesus is being summoned to join the crowd. He got up and does so: this is a miracle. Jesus speaks and it came to pass!

The crowd must understand that Jesus does not depend on them: in a sovereign and immediate way, he can make those who stay home become part of his retinue. But true following is more than just running after someone: it is being obedient!

To demonstrate this, Jesus actually chooses a civil servant of Herod Antipas, a collector of taxes. He is under the command of the tetrarch, but Jesus presents himself as a greater ruler. The crowd has to realize that they cannot limit themselves to an interest in a prophet or a miracle worker. They are facing the King of kings who wants to be obeyed by all. The tax inspector is now being commandeered himself.1