As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man pamed Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The New International Version. (2011). (Mt 9:9–13). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Jesus Calls Levi
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Lk 5:27–32). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
I believe inside each of us there is a deep call back to simplicity, back to innocence, and back to a walk with God in the cool of the day. I call it “Eden Calling.” We were created for Eden. We were created for intimate fellowship with God. We were created for God. It is our disobedience that keeps us from hearing that call. We were created to enjoy our Creator, but too many distractions keep us from actually listening for that call. That is why God sent His Son into the world. Jesus came to remind us “God is good. In His Presence is fullness of joy.” I love the stories in God’s Word that show the party side of Jesus. Here in these verses Jesus is enjoying himself and having fun with social outcasts. Levi knew how to celebrate the One who had called Him. He had been shown a great honor when Jesus had told him, “Follow me.” No other religious leader would have even thought to waste energy or words on this tax collector. He in turn responded by honoring Jesus with a party, a celebration. Table fellowship at that time indicated intimate relations among those who share it. “There was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them.” Jesus was kicking it back with people others deemed not worthy or ethical. I love that verb in that verse, reclining. This was an intimate affair. It was a celebration for people who were not normally recognized by the religious sect. Of course Levi would have invited his own peers. These were the people who would have joined his party. The pious and the strict would not have come. Jesus came to restore the intimate fellowship that was lost the moment the woman entered into dialogue with the serpent.
My daughter and mom and husband honored me the other night for my birthday. We had fun, got dressed up and went to a restaurant I had been wanting to try. My two grandsons put on their Sunday best, (collared golf shirts and shorts.) They slicked back their hair. As the youngest put it, “Feel my hair LaLa. It’s stiff.” My daughter had everyone looking quite nicely and off we went for a wonderful dinner. I was honored.
That is all Levi wanted to do. Honor the One who had called him. When no other religious leader in town would even look his way, Jesus the Nazarene invited him to join him. So he celebrated him. He celebrated Jesus publicly. He did not do it secretly. Obviously the whole town could witness this lavish banquet, because you have the party poopers grumbling and complaining to Jesus’ disciples. They religious snobs could not believe Jesus would associate with the outcasts and sinners. They chose not to celebrate. They chose to point fingers and accuse. Who in this scene is not having fun?
At times in my life, I have chose to be the one not having fun. I have been the party pooper. I have publicly voiced my doubt in God. I have chose instead to grumble and complain to God. Lately, I have decided it is in my best interest and for the good of my sanity, instead of grumbling because God did not answer a prayer a certain way, maybe I should start celebrating all He has done for me in my life. Theologians call this an attitude of gratitude. It makes a marked improvement on my disposition. I wonder if that is why God commanded the praise tribe, Judah, to go into battle first. Praise and worship is one of our greatest weapons in the warfare of our minds.
From this day forth, God remind me to worship even when I don’t feel like it.
I choose this day to Celebrate Jesus!