Week 1 | Thursday

Who is Jesus?

Jesus & Levi

by Janet Nygren


Today’s passage follows immediately after yesterday’s, the healing and forgiveness of the paralyzed man. As Jesus becomes more well known in the area, it’s interesting that some people come looking for him, but others are pursued by Jesus. Keep in mind that tax collectors were not popular people in Jesus’ day–in fact they were despised. They were considered defectors from Israel because they collected taxes for the Romans, and built in a little extra in the collection for their own commission. Invite the Holy Spirit once again to help you look at this short passage with fresh eyes to get to know Jesus better.

Read: Luke 5:27-32

27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Be Curious

  • Why do you think Jesus would pursue Levi, rather than wait for him to come to him?
  • What does Levi’s response tell you about his heart?
  • What do we learn about Jesus’ heart in this passage?


  • If Jesus approaches you, do you worry about “getting cleaned up” before interacting with him? Do you feel “worthy” of his attention?
  • As you interact with others, do you approach them the way Jesus does, or are you more like the Pharisees, who didn’t want to associate with people who don’t measure up?  


  • Jesus invites us to come to him. He doesn’t point his finger at us in judgment. Will you respond to his invitation and talk to him about what your own heart is saying?


  • Would you be willing to share with others what this passage brings to mind for you? It might be a story, it might be an attitude, it might be something you are still wrestling with. Many of us don’t like to put ourselves in the “sick” category, or hang around with those who are. We are all works in progress still.


Melody - March 2nd, 2023 at 4:20am

It's pretty common these days to think about "cleaning up your act" before walking into a church as a modern phenomenon, maybe started by the Catholic church's practice of making confession before going to the service.

But with this reading I've noticed that this must have been how religious people thought of "sickness" in Jesus'time, too. It really impresses me that Matthew is so introspective, he doesn't say anything worth recording when Jesus obviously categorizes him with "the sick". He doesn't deny it, but he doesn't make a big show out of how broken he is, either. I wonder if this is because being close to Jesus gave him a realistic view of himself, like the Samaritan woman at the well?

For me, I used to be always at one extreme or the other-- putting on a brave face, or wallowing in self- loathing, depending on how much I trusted the audience and how I was feeling that day. But Jesus (along with counseling) has brought me better balance in recent years, and I'm grateful to him for that.

Nick Tebordo - March 2nd, 2023 at 4:22am

I am preaching this Sunday on the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. I will be using the words we are considering today. Jesus didn’t come to call those who consider themselves “righteous”. Rather Jesus came to those who acknowledge their sins and want forgiveness. I was talking with Janet last night about yesterday’s devotion where Jesus pointed to the Pharisees and said “I know what you are thinking”. There are times when what we are doing looks good on the outside, but our inner thoughts don’t match the outer works. It made me very conscious of my sin and need for forgiveness-and so, the process of sanctification continues. The You Version verse of the day says,”He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”(Philippians 1:6) There is nothing in me that should make me feel better than another. As Paul said to the Romans,”All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Lisa Irving - March 2nd, 2023 at 5:34am

This passage reminds me that no one is perfect and everyone of us needs to seek Jesus. One of my prayers is to be more like Jesus. I am far from perfect and am so thankful for Jesus’ forgiveness. I am glad Jesus will see and take us as we are in the moment. If we had to be righteous to come to him then I’m not sure if any of us would ever be able come to him due to being sinners.

David Edelstein - March 2nd, 2023 at 5:35am

In the Chosen version Matthew's conversion was not as instantaneous as this. Matthew faced anger from even his own family and had to hide his face from others on his way to his job. His only safe place was in his tax collector's booth where he was protected. He wrestled with his existence and showed curiosity in following Jesus prior to Jesus's calling him to follow. When my wife invited me to go with her to attend a Bible study, I was curious since I knew something was missing in my life. But my conversion wasn't instantaneous either. I gradually learned more and more. Three years after I first started going, I connected with Jews for Jesus, and with the firm but gentle prompting of one of my mentors, I made the decision to accept the Lord.

Tom Nygren - March 2nd, 2023 at 5:55am

My attitude around non-Christians, especially those who seem to be living lives very distant from God and unconcerned with spiritual matters, is often to assume that they would not be interested in Jesus and what he has to offer. As a result I often don't make much effort to reach out to them. But Jesus has the opposite perspective and says they are the ones who need him the most. I wonder why I have this wrong attitude. I guess I am more like the Pharisees than I like to admit.

Janet Nygren - March 2nd, 2023 at 8:01am

We rented out our house for a few years, and one of our tenants was a family whose husband was a veteran, who was suffering PTSD after serving somewhere where he had seen action--maybe Iraq? Afghanistan? I can't remember. We had a discussion with him once about faith/church, and he made a comment about how, after the things he had seen and the things he had done, there was no way he could ever set foot in a church. It strikes me that he is a bit like Levi. He needs to be pursued, since he feels "disqualified" to be part of Jesus' kingdom. We weren't really in a position to pursue much relationship with him, but it also strikes me that we need to be like Jesus to people like this. They won't come to church or seek Jesus on their own, but rather need to be met where they are at, and experience the love of Jesus through people who know Jesus. I tend to hang out with Christians who at least "know the right answers," even if they don't follow through. It's convicting to look at Jesus' life and how he pursued those who were "sick", but I still need a lot of help to actually step across the barriers I create in my own mind.




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