After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” Luke 5:27, ESV
Now he had to go through Samaria… When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”… He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”… The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” John 4:4,7,16-18, 25-26 ESV
Jesus’ calling of Levi emphasizes an important aspect of His ministry. Jesus sees us and knows us; He calls us from where we are. Levi is a tax collector. He’s an outcast who’s hated among the Jews. And yet, Jesus sees in Levi redemption and invites him into His presence just as he is; knowing that through following Him, Levi’s story can and will be rewritten.
Jesus calls us to Him just as we are; in our brokenness. One of the best examples of this is when He meets the woman at the well in John 4. John tells us “He had to go through Samaria.” This is far from the standard of the day! Traditionally, Jews would have traveled across the River Jordan and around Samaria to avoid potentially becoming unclean through interacting with the Samaritans. Instead, Jesus travels through Samaria; knowing He would meet with the woman at this specific time. In that moment of meeting her, He knows her. He sees every mistake and secret she holds. But, rather than condemnation, He greets her with an outpouring of love and kindness. Instead of meeting her with shame and judgement, Jesus chooses to reveal Himself as the Messiah to her.
In both encounters, Jesus seeks out and calls the outcasts of society. Through Him, they are brought into a redemptive relationship with God. When we come into Jesus’ presence, we experience this redemption too. Our shame – similar to the woman at the well – becomes a testimony that allows us to invite others into His glorifying presence. It’s through this experience that we know, “this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42 ESV).
Take time to “see” someone this week. Pray and ask God to help you strike up a conversation with someone. It could be with a retail worker, colleague, neighbor…maybe a member of the homeless community. Engage them in conversation, and through that experience, show them God’s kindness and love.
By John Egland