JESUS CALLED LEVI (Matthew)

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1 BOOK 2, PART 1, LESSON 7 JESUS CALLED LEVI (Matthew) THE BIBLE: Luke 5:27-32 THEME: Jesus lived as God s obedient son. His life of love, compassion and healing shows what children of God are called to be and do. PREPARING FOR THE LESSON MAIN IDEA: Jesus called unlikely people to be his disciples. We can be follows of Jesus even through we may not always do what is right. MEMORY VERSE: Jesus said to him, Come with me. Luke 5:27b CEV KEY WORDS AND CONCEPTS TO BE LEARNED: a. Disciple - a student of a teacher and a learner. Jesus had many disciples. The most famous were THE TWELVE whom he called to be with him. b. Sinner - a person who breaks God s commandments. A person who does what God says not to do. BIBLE BACKGROUND: The Romans ruled most of the known world at the time Jesus lived. While the Jewish people resented this intrusion into their lives, they were nonetheless allowed basic freedoms, provided they stayed out of trouble and paid their taxes. The Romans levied taxes on every aspect of life. There were taxes on the land as well as a poll tax on every male child over fourteen years old and every female over twenty. There were tolls people had to pay to go from one place to another, dues and market fees. There were taxes on everything. The villagers distrusted and often hated and feared the local tax collector. They often labeled him as a thief and a sinner. Levi was just a local official. He was generally disliked and more than a little dishonest. The Bible also refers to Levi as Matthew. UNDERSTANDING YOUR FAITH: Children are rarely perfect. Adult and peer reactions play a significant role in the formation of a child s self concept. Positive reactions are interpreted as I am good and negative reactions as I am not good. Jesus set an example of acceptance. The people he called to be his followers were far from perfect; yet, they made important contributions to the spreading of the gospel. We can follow Jesus example as we relate to each child. Children love stories with a twist at the end. Who would have thought that Jesus would entrust his most important messages to a man who was a dishonest and disliked tax collector? Jesus saw the possibility behind this unlikely disciple. We need to

2 recognize the possibilities in the children we teach as well. DEVELOPING YOUR FAITH: Read Mark 2: This is another story of a person who was willing to give up everything in order to follow Jesus. Levi had more to give up than the fishermen. What does this say about Levi s commitment to discipleship? What do you give up in order to teach? 1. INTRODUCTION TEACHING THE LESSON Talk about how things can be different from what they first appear. ASK: Have you ever decided you didn t like a food just because of the way it looked, smelled, or appeared and later found out you like it. (Let the children share some of their experiences. Share some of your own.) Sometimes things are different than what we think they are. SAY: In today s Bible story, we are going to meet someone who is a little different. He is not a very nice person, but someone else thought that he was more than what he appeared to be. SAY: In Bible times, the Romans ruled the country where Jesus lived. The Roman king wanted to build great monuments and wonderful roads. All of this required money. The king raised the money by taxing all the countries that the Roman army had defeated and now ruled. The Jewish people didn t like the Romans anyway. They didn t want them in their country at all. But when they started taxing the people, it was too much. SAY: The people in Jesus time hated the taxes. They were taxed for everything. There were taxes if you traveled on the roads. There were taxes on what you grew on the land. There were taxes when you went to the Temple. There were taxes when you went to the market and to make matters worse, the tax collectors were not very honest. SAY: In today s Bible story, you will hear about a tax collector who became a follower of Jesus. Jesus saw something good in this man, even though no one else liked him at all. 2. EXPLORE THE BIBLE MESSAGE By now, many people had heard about Jesus the teacher. Everywhere he went, many people followed him. They wanted to hear what he had to say. They wanted to see if Jesus would perform any more miracles. One day as Jesus was traveling back to Lake Galilee, he walked past the table where Levi the tax man was sitting. People did not like Levi very much. He collected the taxes for the Roman government. The Jewish people wanted the Romans to go away. They did not want to pay any more to build Roman roads, Roman temples and

3 Roman buildings. They also disliked Levi for another reason. Levi was dishonest. Levi took more money from the people than what they actually owed the government. Levi kept the extra money for himself. Levi was a very wealthy man. As Jesus came by the tax booth, he stopped. Levi, he called out, leave what you are doing and come with me. I need you. Some people thought that Levi should just laugh at Jesus and tell him to be on his way. But instead, Levi got up from the tax booth, left everything there, and followed Jesus. Now Jesus had five disciples Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John the sons of Zebedee, and Levi (who was also called Matthew). Levi was so excited about becoming a follower of Jesus that he gave a banquet at his house. Levi invited Jesus and all of his followers to come and celebrate Levi s new life. In the crowd that night were many tax collectors. When everyone sat down to dinner, Jesus and his followers sat among the tax collectors. The Pharisees and the scribes complained to some of Jesus followers. Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors? They are sinners. Jesus overheard what they side and answered them, Those who are well do not need a doctor. I have come to minister to those who are sick. I did not come to call the people who are already doing what is right and just. I came to call the outcasts, those who are sinners. They are the ones who truly need my help. So, Levi became one of Jesus special helpers. Jesus chose twelve men to be special helpers. They were with him all the time. They listened when Jesus told the people about God and about what God wants people to do. These twelve men were called apostles. The apostles were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Levi (sometimes called Matthew), another James, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. 3. RESPOND TO THE BIBLE MESSAGE ACTIVITY 1: Questions 1. Who was Levi? (Levi was a local tax collector. Jesus called him to be his disciple.) 2. What did Jesus ask him to do? (Jesus called Levi to follow him.) 3. What do you think Jesus saw in Levi that no one else did? (There are many right answers. Jesus saw that Levi wanted to be good.) 4. How did the Pharisees and scribes feel about Jesus choice of friends? (They thought that these tax collectors were not good enough to be Jesus friends. The children will have other good answers.) ACTIVITY 2: Not-so-perfect ASK: Do you know anyone at school whom it seems that no one likes? Why

4 doesn t anyone like this person? Do you think that person has some good qualities that maybe no one else can see? How might you be able to help those people who seem to be left out at school? TELL the story about Brian James. (Writers: Please adapt this story or write one similar to it. Adapt by changing name and situation.) Brian sat outside the principles office. He was in trouble again. He had a good idea what the principal was going to say and he really didn t want to hear it. Why was it such a big deal if he hit that kid? The kid deserved it! Brian looked down at his shoes and carefully scraped the dried mud from one shoe with the toe of the other one. He was watching his shoes, when suddenly WHAM a toy fire truck landed in his lap. Brian looked up. There stood three-year-old Eric, smiling. Hi, Brian! See my new fire truck? Eric asked. Brain smiled at Eric. He usually played with Eric after church on Sundays. Eric s big sister went to this school. Eric s mother must be in the principle s office now, he thought. That s a nice truck, Brian said as he picked it up to look at it. Just then Eric s mother came out of the principle s office. Oh, there you are, Eric, she said. Hi, Brian! Thanks for watching Eric. I guess he got tired in the meeting. He really likes you and I know he is safe when he is with you. Brian didn t know what to say. He mumbled something and looked down at his shoes. She wouldn t say that if she knew why I m sitting here, he thought, nobody likes me. Eric s mom sat down beside him. Looks like you are here to see the principle. Do you want to talk about it? I hit a kid during recess, he muttered. Eric s mom put her arms around Brian and gave him a hug. My guess is that you feel pretty bad about yourself right now. Brian looked down at his shoes. Brian, a lot of people care about you and want to help you grow. Growing is not easy, but it helps to know that people care about you. When you talk to the principle, maybe she can help you figure out what to do to stop hitting people. And we will see you at church on Sunday. She gathered up Eric and his truck and said, Remember, we will see you on Sunday. Brian sat quietly on the bench. He was still waiting to see the principle but he felt better knowing that he did not have to be perfect in order for people to like him. Maybe he could stop hitting other children. ACTIVITY 3: Questions Please make up some questions about the story you wrote.

5 1. Why was Brian in trouble? 2. Should he have gotten into trouble? 3. As you listened to the story, what good qualities did you discover about Brian? 4. How did Eric s mom feel about Brian? Remind the children that we can feel the kind of love that Jesus had for Levi all the time, even when we do not do what is right. Jesus saw Levi s good qualities. Jesus knew that Levi wasn t as bad a person as he seemed to be. 4. CLOSE IN PRAYER Remind the children that Jesus reached out to people whom other people rejected. These people helped Jesus spread the good news about God s love. Remind the children that as followers of Jesus they are called to reach out to others, too. PRAY: Dear God, thank you for your gift of Jesus. We are glad to know that Jesus loves us just as we are and still wants us to be his followers. Amen.

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