So far, it doesn’t seem like I’m going to be the next Billy Graham. My “fame” is pretty localized to a small town in northern BC.
Did you ever dream of a being a famous movie star? Or a famous doctor? Or a famous logging truck driver, teacher, mother, or salesperson? Or pastor?
The Gospel of Mark has the story of Jesus finding a tax collector named Levi and saying to him, “Follow me.” And Levi gets up and follows Jesus. Just like that.
Matthew’s Gospel contains virtually the same incident, except the tax collector’s name is Matthew. So traditionally people have said that Levi and Matthew are the same person who are just known by two different names, not unlike Simon/Peter and Saul/Paul. But at least one scholar* questions whether Levi and Matthew are really the same person and presents evidence that they are not.
So what if they aren’t? you may ask.
Consider this: Jesus calls Levi in the same way He calls Peter, Andrew, James and John, yet the name Levi never appears alongside the names of “The Twelve” when they are listed anywhere. If indeed Levi and Matthew are different persons, then Mark’s Gospel shows us already at the very beginning how the call to follow Jesus is not limited to the official, well-known twelve disciples.
The implication for me is this: My call to follow Jesus may be one where I become famous (like Matthew and his Gospel). Or my call to follow Jesus may one of anonymity (like Levi as we don’t know what happens to him). But it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that I respond to Jesus’ call. Whether mine becomes a household name need not be my concern. May I simply be faithful and allow Jesus to guide me where He will, leaving the results up to Him.
Artwork from Catholica Omnia, but I don’t know who the artist is. Do you?
* David E. Garland questions whether Levi and Matthew are the same person in his commentary on Mark in NIV Application Commentary series.