When I read of the interactions Jesus has with people I am always floored by how simple yet profound they are. I was recently reading Luke 5:27-39 and was challenged by how Jesus so beautifully changes a man’s life with two words. This man was Levi. He was a tax collector and in his day was someone not liked by most, even hated.
Jesus approaches Levi at his tax booth and says two simple words: “Follow me.”
Why is this profound? So what? If someone came up to me and said “follow me” I would instantly be skeptical. There would be so many questions. Why should I follow him?
Even though this would normally draw many questions and hesitations it didn’t for Levi. As the text goes on, it says Levi “leaving everything at his booth (even the money), rose up and followed.” So Levi just got up and said “yes.” He and Jesus spent the day together and Levi invited all of his friends over, who also were not thought of highly in society, and they threw a banquet and ate, talked and just spent time together.
That’s what I love about Jesus, who is the exact representation of God – he didn’t ask Levi to clean up his reputation. He didn’t tell Levi that he needed to change anything, but rather just that he wanted to be with him. Levi, a man who would be so often approached with faces of despair, anger and hatred saw in the face of Jesus hope, friendship, care, love, welcome and an invite to just be in the presence of a God who doesn’t ask us to go clean up, be like me and then I’ll see you when you’ve got it together.
Jesus simply says “follow me” as you are, let’s spend time together and share each other’s company. Don’t be confused though. Jesus doesn’t just want us to stay as we are, he invites us into a life-changing relationship.
Emmett Penke writes from Rainier Hills Young Life.