During this series we we look at
- 5th March Luke 7: 27-31 – Calling of Levi
- 12th March Luke 7: 36-50 – Jesus’ anointing by a sinful woman
- 19th March Luke 9: 10-17 – Feeding of 5.000
- 26th March Luke 14: 12-24 – Invitation to the Banquet
- 2nd April Luke 15: 11-31 – Celebration feast for lost son who is found
- 9th April Luke. 22: 1-27 – Last Supper
Last Sunday Caroline introduced this sermon series by saying that not all, but a great deal of Jesus teaching and miracles were around meals, – some accounts are meals where Jesus actually attended, some are stories which Jesus told, which took place around a meal
The first meal in this series is looking at Jesus’ meal with Levi in Luke 5:27-31.
This story is mentioned in three of the four gospels. All of these accounts are very similarly written but with two different names. It was common for Jewish people to have 2 or 3 names that they were known by.. and Levi is also known as Mathew. (So in Luke 5:27-32 and Mark 2:13-17 he is called Levi and in Matthew 9:9-13, he is called Mathew.)
Levi was a tax collector who worked for the Roman authorities. Often tax collectors were unscrupulous and used their position to cheat people and collect more tax than they needed to, and as such would have been deeply unpopular and a social outcast.
Levi sacrificed a great deal to leave his lucrative work and follow Jesus, because he would never be able to get that position again after giving it up…… Peter, James and others who were fishermen… could always have returned to their livelihood.
Yet when Jesus called him Mathew didn’t hesitate, he got up and left everything to follow Jesus.
Luke tells his first act is to throw a celebration feast, to invite whoever would come, to meet with Jesus – a sure sign of really taking Jesus seriously, is the desire for others to meet with Him too.
Luke tells us that the Pharasies judged and asked Jesus’ disciples ‘why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ Levi’s guests were not people the Pharisees would want to associate with.
Jesus replied with a very logical explanation of His choice of company…‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’ Jesus was warning the critical religious leaders of their self righteousness being a barrier to knowing God’s truth and ministry in their lives
To eat with someone, especially in the culture of the day, meant real acceptance and friendship
Jesus, who is God, was there with authority to share loving company but also to forgive – and the company of Levi recognised their need for forgiveness.
Unless we are willing to acknowledge our sinfulness and failure to live by God’s standards, we are unable to enter into a relationship with God.
When Jesus called him, Levi didn’t hesitate; he got up and left everything to follow Him.
He trusted Jesus
Levi’s response to Jesus, was to have a celebration meal – just so thankful for the loving grace he’s received from Jesus – an opportunity to start again.