Jesus Calling

Week Two Introduction

Does God truly want to be near someone like ME?  For many of us, this is a concern that stops us from drawing closer to our Father.  The remarkable fact is that He truly does desire for each one of us to come to Him. Through these lessons we will discover that Christ sincerely longs for us to draw closer to Him each and every day.  Let’s look closely at both Jesus’ words and actions to help us to see this.  

Focus Scripture

While on earth- Jesus welcomed everyone to draw closer to Him and to the LOVE of God (He especially welcomed sinners!)  

Mark 2:13-17 (NKJV)  13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. 14 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.  15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”  17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  

Biblical History  

Matthew (Levi) in the Bible came to be one of Jesus’ disciples.  Before Matthew became a disciple of Christ, he was a tax collector.  Matthew aka Levi (in the above verses) are the same person.  Tax collectors, like Levi, were hated by the Jews because they worked for the Roman government.  The Roman government at this time in history was an enemy of the Jewish people.  Even though the Roman government was against both the Jewish faith and lifestyle, some Jewish men chose to work for them as tax collectors.  These Jewish men did this as a way to get wealthy.  These tax collectors not only worked for the “enemy”, but they were oftentimes very dishonest individuals. These men would very often demand more “tax” money than what was owed in an attempt to cheat their neighbors.  Because of these reasons, tax collectors were known to their Jewish neighbors as horrible people and terrible sinners.  
Since Matthew (Levi) was a tax collector, he was looked upon this way by his community. Religious people stayed clear of people like Matthew.  A “good” Jewish person would have never been seen dining with a tax collector.  These negative opinions and dirty details did not concern Jesus. Our loving Savior was not worried about what the so-called religious people thought.    He loved Matthew (Levi) even in his sinful state. The fact that Jesus invited Levi (a sinful tax collector) to draw nearer to Him is so amazing. God loved Levi.  He loves each one of us with that same mighty passion.  Even though we sin and fall short on a daily basis, God truly does want each of us to come closer!  

Thoughts from Leslie  

Our sins do not keep God from longing to be near to us.

This is so beautiful to me! :) Our human minds cannot comprehend the powerful emotion that God feels towards us.  He deeply desires for each one of us to draw nearer to Him.  He truly does long to be close to us each and every day!  This is so incredible!  Think about the strongest feelings of Love that you have ever experienced.  The feelings we have felt are only a dim shadow to the amount of love that God feels for us on an ongoing basis.  Remember that God IS love!  

Focus Words  

MONDAY

Mark 2:13-17 (NKJV)  13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. 14 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.  15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”  17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  

Follow: (verb) to walk or proceed along <follow a path or person>   

Original word: ἀκολουθέω (akoloutheō) 

Definition:  properly, to be in the same way with, i.e. to accompany  (specially, as a disciple) 

Connection to Us

We need to be so careful of who or what we are “following”.  When we allow another person to lead us, we are in essence accepting their desires as our own.  It is human nature for a person to seek their own personal desires. Knowing this should help us to see just how dangerous the act of “following” can be.  

Before we decide to follow someone we need to have a clear understanding of just WHERE they are going!  I wonder if any of us truly take the time to consider the deep impact that following the wrong person can have on our lives?  This can change our entire destiny!  As children of God, we KNOW where Jesus is headed.  He is always moving toward His Father!   

We also know what He desires, He desires for each of us to follow Him as He leads us nearer to His Father, God.  He is continuously traveling and continuously leading us in the direction where true LOVE is found!  

He is calling us to FOLLOW Him! This is so beautiful! Are we ready to truly say yes to our Savior?  

TUESDAY

Mark 2:13-14 (NKJV)  13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. 14 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.  

Arose: (verb)  to get up  

Original Word: ἀνίστημι (anistēmi) 

Definition: to stand up (literal or figurative)  

Connection to Us

Jesus wants us to be an active participant in our faith walk with Him.  Growing nearer to our Lord is something that we must actively pursue to achieve.  It is by no means something that happens by chance.  In order to pursue it, we must be willing to STAND UP, be an active participant, and actually MOVE.  Before we can follow our Lord and Savior where He desires to lead us, we must ARISE!  

Connect this theory with the app, “Couch to 5K”.  This running app helps non-runners train and exercise in a slow and steady way.  Notice it is titled COUCH to 5k.  The first step to accomplishing the ultimate 5K goal is to first ARISE off of the couch!   

It is the same in ANY area of your life in which you are wanting to GROW.  You must first ARISE!  

WEDNESDAY

Mark 2:13-17 (NKJV)  13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. 14 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.  15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”  17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  
 
Dining: (verb)  to eat a meal.  

Original Word: κατάκειμαιto (katakeimai) 

Definition: to recline at a meal  

Connection to Us

When we look at the definition for the word dine, it is easy to miss the significance of this simple act.  The fact that Jesus dined with sinners is extremely important!  

When people dined together in Biblical times, it was a very meaningful event. It was a way of showing both love and acceptance.  When Jesus chose to dine with this group of people “in essence” he was announcing to everyone in that town that He LOVED and accepted these people.  He was not saying that He agreed with their lifestyles, but He is saying that He LOVED them in spite of their lifestyles!  

Think back to when you were in high school.  Who we sat with at lunch was very important. Our “table mates” had a HUGE effect on how the rest of the school population viewed us. Who we sat with would immediately put us into a certain category:  we were immediately labeled as a jock, a nerd, a popular kid, etc.   

This was kind of the same silly thinking back in Jesus’ day.  In the eyes of those around him, Jesus, by choosing to dine with “sinners” was put in a VERY QUESTIONABLE category.   

Because He was choosing to dine with sinners… did this make HIM a sinner?   

This was the question that was running through some “religious” people’s minds.  Jesus did not worry Himself as to what people thought about Him.  He LOVED these “sinful” people and He DEEPLY desired to spend time with them. He feels the same towards each one of us today! This is true LOVE! This is so incredible!  

Are we ready to invite Jesus to spend time with us today?  He is eagerly waiting to “dine” with us! 

THURSDAY

Mark 2:13-17 (NKJV)  13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. 14 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.  15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”  17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  

Call: (verb)  to command or request to come or be present  

Original Word: λέγω (legō) 

Definition: (a) I call, summon, invite, (b) I call, name.  

Connection to Us  

Jesus does not command any of us to come to Him, but He does CALL for us to come closer. Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the light.” He could simply stand at a distance watching us and thinking to Himself, “Those silly children. They should KNOW I will lead them to my Father. They should KNOW I will lead them on the path toward true love!  If  they choose NOT to follow me, that is their own sad loss!  It is no ‘skin off my back.’ I am just going to stand here and watch them wander in darkness.”  

But Our Savior DOESN’T say that! Our Messiah actually DID give the skin off of His back the day that He chose to die on the cross for our sins!  And now He does not passively sit by and look down on us whenever we roam around in darkness - He continues to CALL TO US to follow Him.  He is lovingly leading us toward the LIGHT!!! It is up to us to FOLLOW!  This is so beautiful! Are we ready to answer His CALL today?  

Strategy for This Week: Drawing Nearer

Intentionally sit and reflect upon today’s lesson.  Ask God to help you release all of your problems to Him - even the ones you are not aware of at this time.  As you relax your mind and body, start coloring this week’s coloring page as you intentionally seek God’s presence.  He is right there beside you!  Take the time to talk to your Heavenly Father.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Thank Him for loving you in such a deep and meaningful way!