He Left All (?) To Follow Jesus

Chorus of Voices: The Reception History of the Parables In chapter 5:27-29 Luke records the story of Jesus calling Levi (Matthew) away from his tax booth. Levi answers the call by standing up, leaving everything, and following Jesus.  What does it mean to “leave everything?”  We may have heard guilt-trip type sermons on this before, always making us think we haven’t really “left all.”  However, in the story, Luke tells us that after being called, Levi went home and threw a huge (and no doubt expensive!) party for a bunch of people (Jesus included).  So what does it mean that Levi “left everything” if he still had a good size home and enough money to host a large feast?  I appreciate Calvin’s words on this:

Luke 5:29. “And Levi made him a great banquet.” This appears to be at variance with what Luke relates, that he “left all”: but the solution is easy. Matthew [Levi] disregarded every hindrance, and gave up himself entirely to Christ, but yet did not abandon the charge of his own domestic affairs.

When Paul, referring to the example of soldiers, exhorts the ministers of the word to be free and disentangled from every hindrance, and to devote their labours to the church, he says: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of life, that he may please the commander” (2 Tim. 2:4.) He certainly does not mean, that those who enroll themselves in the military profession divorce their wives, forsake their children, and entirely desert their homes; but that they quit their homes for a time, and leave behind them every care, that they may be wholly employed in war. In the same manner, nothing kept Matthew [Levi] from following where Christ called; and yet he freely used both his house and his property, as far as the nature of his calling allowed.

Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, pp. 399–400). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

shane lems

2 thoughts on “He Left All (?) To Follow Jesus”

  1. The Lord has used you, brother, to deliver me a much-needed word today. I am securing my home and belongings from potential theft or damage, and it (among other recent major life events), has caused me to pondered if I am not “storing my treasures on earth.” Some recent events have made me realize I could leave them all in a heartbeat if need be. And yet, stewardship of all He has given me from His hand also made me want to be careful with how I protect the resources He has provided. I hope that’s not too cryptic. I would explain more, but am still living somewhat on razor’s edge until a certain deliverance comes to pass. Bless you for your faithfulness to the Lord.


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