Monday, January 5, 2015

At the Tax Collector's Booth - Mark 2:13-17 Post 3

Chalkboard Mark 2:13-17 Post 3
As You walked beside the lake, teaching the crowd that gathered, You came across Levi sitting at the tax collector's booth (Mark 2:13-14).  I always picture it as being out in the middle of nowhere: lake, wilderness, ...random tax collector's booth; but I realize it must have been a logical place for collecting taxes.

Levi (also called Matthew) (Matt. 9:9-12) was a tax collector.  He collected money from his fellow countrymen for his enemy - the conquerors.  His own people considered him a traitor.  

Was he just out for himself, caring nothing for others?  Maybe.  

But usually things are more complicated than that.  I don't know if his journey was a long slippery slope, starting off with a series of small decisions that eventually led him here, or if he just went all out with the first decision.  Maybe this was the only way he could see to support his family.  But here he is (Mark 2:13-14), working for the enemy.  

Tax collectors at that time had a reputation for taking more than was necessary - for cheating.  I'm sure he was lining his pockets like the rest, which meant he was using people.  Using his own people.  Using their situation, using the fact that they had to pay taxes in the first place, using the fact that they probably couldn't protest against the tax collectors.

When people stood before him at his booth, he probably sized them up to see what he could get from them.  I doubt he wondered what he could give them.

But...how am I different?  Aren't we all trying to get something for ourselves from the people around us - maybe not in such a blatantly avaricious way, but still, something, at the very least trying to make ourselves feel better through others or look better, or gain significance from and through them, or some cheer, or encouragement, or...

How often do I think more about what I can "get" from the people around me, what they can do for me, than what I can do for them?

How often do I look at people and think about what they need from me?

You ate with tax collectors and sinners, because you were thinking about what they needed, and You knew that what they needed from You - was You

And I can't help thinking that You knew where You were headed that day - that arriving at Levi's tax collector's booth wasn't unexpected, but was Your intention all along.  You went out to the lake because the tax collector's booth was there, because Levi was there, and You were headed to Levi.

While we sit in our "booths," 

You come
and seek us
and give.


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