Would I have accepted the invitation? It’s a haunting question really.
You see, Levi (whom we know today as Matthew) was a hated tax collector for the even more greatly hated Roman Empire. For lack of a better description, Levi was an IRS agent. But instead of simply collecting Uncle Sam’s share, he collected what he could for himself too. So, when people passed his tax booth, they had absolutely nothing good to say.
But, when Jesus approached that same tax booth, he told Levi to follow Him. Leaving everything, that’s exactly what Levi did. The next thing we read, Levi hosted a banquet for Jesus and a large crowd of tax collectors. Right into that group of “sinners” Jesus willingly walked. Interestingly, from the text it appears that Jesus and the tax collectors were comfortable in one another’s company. They apparently welcomed Him readily and He readily welcomed them.
But outside the banquet hall an entirely different crowd had gathered. The religious leaders of the day couldn’t understand why one such as Christ would dare “…eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” (Luke 5:30). There is much to be learned from Jesus’ answer, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (vv31-32).
I wince when I read this story because I fear that I may not have accepted Levi’s invitation to dinner in the first place. Instead, I may have stood outside and questioned the One courageous enough, and loving enough to take the medicine to the ones who were sick.
How about you? Would you have entered Levi’s house? Are those outside the family of God comfortable in your presence? Remember, it’s those on the outside who need to be invited in. –Dave
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