Mark's Gospel

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The Call of Levi

(Mark 2:13-14)

Levi was a collector of tolls and would have been employed by Herod Antipas rather than the Romans. Nevertheless, a tax collector would have been despised by the local community. They were generally thought to be corrupt - pocketing some of the taxes collected for themselves. Capernaum was an important centre of communications on the route from the sea to the east, and custom was levied on all goods carried by caravan. It is generally believed that Levi was in actual fact Matthew the Apostle. When you compare Mark and Matthew's account both the call and the response are the same only the names are different. After the call, presumably in the evening, we are told how Jesus went to eat with his new disciple, Levi. Among the company are some Pharisees. They draw attention to the fact that many 'tax gatherers and sinners' were present. To mix with such people was bad enough, but to eat with them was considered to be particularly improper. Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick; I did not come to invite virtuous people, but sinners.

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