“As Jesus walked along, He saw Levi… sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow Me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed Him… (When some complained) Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus’ invitation to Levi, and to you and me, is, “Follow Me.” This is a gracious invitation – as Levi (Matthew) discovered and as we too know as we follow Jesus. This gracious invitation is especially spoken to all fathers (the spiritual leaders of their families).
An elementary teacher had her class write what they liked best about their dads – these are the top ten:
- He takes time for me
- He listens to me
- He plays with me
- He invites me to go places with him
- He lets me help him
- He treats my mother well
- He lets me say what I think
- He’s nice to my friends
- He only punishes me when I deserve it
- He isn’t afraid to admit when he’s wrong.
This is quite an interesting list – especially the last one – “admit when he’s wrong.” This is always the first step of repentance, forgiveness and living the new life: knowing and admitting that we are NOT the fathers we should be (or the parent, grandparent, friend, etc.). Turning from ourselves and turning to Jesus is always God’s way of pouring His blessings upon His children.
The calling of Levi is quite the interesting Gospel reading for Father’s Day, especially as it is so full of hope and promise! Levi was perhaps the least likely of men to be called to be Jesus’ disciple. Yet, Jesus called Levi, and in that call and following of Jesus, Levi was changed – no longer hated and rejected because of his past of tax collector, but changed by Jesus to be one of the 12 apostles – the writer of the first Gospel in our New Testament!
We fathers (and parents – especially single moms when there are no fathers present) know all too well our sins and failures. And these do not disqualify us as Godly fathers – but like Levi, Jesus calls us / invites us to “follow Him.” And we do this as we regularly “go” to the places where Jesus tells us He is – His Word and Sacraments. Fathers (especially) follow Jesus as first, they themselves regularly read and study God’s Word, attend worship and communion regularly, have a personal prayer life. This example is most important for their children. And then, fathers “follow Jesus” as they lead their children and family to also “follow” Jesus in His Word and Sacraments. (What a great reminder this weekend as David & Audrey Kloke brought their son, Nicholas, to be baptized!)
Fathers (mothers, caregivers) “follow Jesus” in every activity they do, as we read in Deuteronomy 6: “Fathers, impress God’s Word upon your children. Talk about (Jesus and His Word) when you sit at home and when you walk along the road (drive in the car); when you lie down (bed-time prayers?) and when you rise up (breakfast prayers and talk about the day ahead?)… Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” What a joy and privilege we have as Christian fathers, mothers and friends, to “follow Jesus” every day and to invite others to “follow” also – “following Jesus” every day of this life all the way to our home in heaven!
God’s blessings this week in “following Jesus” every day – and we look forward to seeing you with us this next weekend, “following Jesus” as we gather again for Bible Study and worship.