Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
Pastor Sean Blomquist
Shelter Covenant Church (Concord)
If you could boil down the story of scripture into its simplest form, it could be summed up in two words: FOLLOW ME. This is the primary theme of scripture. It is Jesus’ invitation to Levi to be in relationship with him. At first glance, I love the simplicity of this invitation. Levi jumps at the chance because a powerful rabbi has invited him to his way of life. Any Jewish man would jump at the chance.
As I ponder these two words, they may be simple to understand, but difficult to do:
FOLLOW: If I am honest with my 21st-century self, I don’t like to follow. It’s not because I am a leader and a pastor, but it’s because I hold higher my individualistic identity, and live in a culture where cynicism about authority runs like a virus. “FOLLOWING” cannot be trusted (in the California sense, of course). Why is following hard for you?
ME: I like the “me” part as long as the “me” is me, but here the “me” is Jesus. Following the person of Jesus will always lead us to take responsibility to party with people we don’t like/trust.
The beauty of Jesus’ invitation for Levi is seen by his response: To throw a party. Not only does he invite fellow sinners and tax collectors, but he also allows the self-righteous Pharisees to watch, judge and refuse to eat with him at his own party. Now that is truly a transformed man!
Lord Jesus, one way or the other, if we follow you, our hearts will be challenged to take responsibility to party with the self-righteous or sick sinners. Grant us a willing heart to party with them all.