Levi gave a banquet.

In Lent 24 by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And Levi got up, left everything, and followed Jesus. Then Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to Jesus disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners.'”

Luke 5:27-39

Jesus was known for the way that he was drawn to the down-and-out. His group included tax collectors, those who the gospels call ‘sinners,’ people who society had rejected because of diseases, blindness, lameness, and others who were disaffiliated by society, especially Jewish society. One of the best examples of this is when Jesus called down from his perch, tax collector Zacchaeus in order to ask to come to Zacchaeus’ house. This wasn’t mere chance that he went to Zacchaeus’ house; Jesus actually approached him – sought him out. Luke 19:5.

In Luke 5, another tax-collector named Levi encountered Jesus and, again, Jesus enjoyed the hospitality of people that the Jewish religious leaders rejected. If Levi was, indeed, Matthew, as many scholars believe, then Jesus went beyond having the occasional meal with “tax collectors and sinners” to actually including one of them in his inner circle of disciples. (See Mark 2:13-14.)

In answer to the complaints of the religious leaders about the company Jesus kept, Jesus said this. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Luke 5:31.) Jesus said this with a certain amount of sarcasm, to be sure. Why so? Jesus said it because he knew that no man is exempt from sin and is, thus, in need of healing.

Jesus chose people like Levi and Zacchaeus because they did not pretend to be “well” as the Pharisees did. They sought Jesus’ company because of the relevance of Jesus’ teachings and actions to their mixed-up lives. Those who were drawn to Jesus was so because they did not consider themselves to be “well.”

Something to think about: Who do you think would qualify to be the “tax collectors and sinners” today? How do they express that?

Something to pray about: O God, we love the way you are so compassionate and gracious to those without prideful, posturing ways. Those who come to you in needful openness seeking answers to the troubles in their lives. We want to have that same humility and pray for your Spirit to shape our spirits into being your follower. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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