Notes on Mark 2, verses 13-14
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Mark 2, verse 13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
This event is unique to Mark, not mentioned by either Matthew or Luke. Mark doesn’t say what Jesus taught the multitudes who were following Him but apparently they wanted to hear what Jesus had to say. O that we might have a hunger and thirst for the Word. even as they did.
14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
Mark and Luke call this man Levi but Matthew calls himself “Matthew” (compare this account with the parallel passages in Matthew 9:9-13 and Luke 5:27-31 and possibly the end of chapter 5). Levi/Matthew’s job was that of a “publican” or as some describe it, a Jew who collected Roman taxes but could make a profit (implied in the following few verses). The position, to receive “custom”, is not easy to define in today’s terms but it was most likely a tax or tariff of some kind. Other works on Bible customs and manners, along with good commentaries, may well provide additional light on the role of “publicans”.
He wasn’t the only Jew working in that type of job, as Jesus mentioned “publicans” several times during His ministry. Besides Levi/Matthew, Zacchaeus, the chief of the publicans, proved he was a changed man when he offered to give half of his goods to the poor and would restore anything taken “by false accusation fourfold” or four times as much. Jesus mentioned this when He said “salvation had come today to this house (Luke 19:1-10, verse 10 paraphrased)”
None of these three gospel accounts record Levi/Matthew’s verbal response, if any, but all record one simple fact: Levi/Matthew got up from his desk and followed Jesus!
Would any of us, today, be willing to walk away from a (lucrative?) job, or any job, if Jesus called us to follow Him?
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).