The Zealot and the Tax Collector
As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
- Mark 2:14
Inviting a tax collector into your inner circle would be a risky move … but a quintessentially Jesus move.
The tax collector’s ties to the Roman government might mean that you’re inviting a spy into your confidences. The dishonest reputation of the tax collector might mean that people would be more hesitant to entrust your ministry with donations. And having a tax collector in your squad might make other potential disciples turn up their nose at to join the movement.
To make this challenge a little more concrete … in Mark 3 we read that Jesus recruited Simon the Zealot to be one of the twelve disciples. Zealots were a radical political party in ancient Judea. The Zealots were founded when Jesus was a child by Judas the Galilean, who was furious about – ironically – Roman taxes. They had multiple violent revolutions and eventually sparked the First Jewish-Roman War and led to the destruction of the Jewish temple. That’s Simon the Zealot’s political party.
Jesus continually pulled people from diverse backgrounds together. Rural, blue-collar workers travelled alongside wealthy urbanites. Political opportunists learned alongside political idealists. Jesus packed a riot into a small group. And that small group changed the world.
Reflect back on your own life and relationships. How has Jesus connected you with people who are different from you? What has made that connection challenging? What has made that connection rewarding?