Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 2
June 24, 2007
Lincolnton, N.C.

<352> Thesis: "Following" Jesus is not "optional". Introduction: Life is full of mystery. The twists and turns we face on the road are quite beyond our grasp. Even Solomon, recognized by Jesus as a man sought out for his wisdom (Luke 11:31), gave up his quest for a comprehensive understanding of life's twists and turns in exasperation in Ecclesiastes 1:13-14. Therefore, it is a huge plus for us to have in our hands a comprehensive revelation from God that gives us the opportunity to discover enough truth to make life possible for this day. So, as we turn our attention this morning to the Word of God, we find ourselves confronted by a record of the summons of Levi the tax collector by Jesus. In our former study of this paragraph, we noted that Levi's name is given for several reasons, one of which is the heritage that the name carries with it. Levi was named "Levi" in the context of a theological setting wherein the vast majority of people were being smothered by The Lie. The original Levi was so named because his mother was heavily involved in a competition with her sister over who was going to be the most beloved wife. She erroneously believed three major lies: the first was that she could gain her husband's love by means of her production of sons; the second was that God was on her side in this delusion; and the third was that she was supposed to "care" that her husband did not love her as he did her sister. The tax collector in our text was a part of the flotsam of the long-term historical disaster of such delusions. He was wiser than his predecessor's mother in that he had come to terms with the reality that "love" is a grant by the "lover" that has no direct connection to any performance issues in the beloved. But, he was as blind as Leah in that he reacted to that reality with significant hostility. Though he was clear on the fact that one cannot earn love, he was enormously angry about being unloved. Thus, in his anger, he turned to collecting taxes for Rome as a way to compensate himself for his lack of status. This behavior did earn him something: the derisive hostility of the vast majority of his associates. In other words, the lack of status created an even greater lack of status. It is into this downward spiral that Jesus stepped "after these things" with the words "Follow Me." This morning we are going to consider the import of those words.