Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. Luke 5:29
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show. Matthew 23:1-5A
Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:8-12
What is it that was actually happening in Levi's life? We know that Jesus told Levi (Matthew) to follow him and become his disciple. We know that Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. In the Luke 5 verse above we see three additional things that were a part of Levi's response to Christ: he held a banquet in his home; Jesus was the guest of honor, and many ate with them. Levi became a true follower of Christ. We do not become followers of Christ in the same way that Levi did. Remember, that Jesus was physically present and it means that Levi physically followed Jesus. Also, Jesus had not yet accomplished redemption on the cross. But still, by responding to Christ Levi experiences redemption through faith in Christ. A genuine faith response to the person of Christ always connects one with the provision of Christ (in this case it was in anticipation of the promise of the cross). For us today, we cannot physically follow Christ but we follow him spiritually. We too have a genuine faith response to the person of Christ that connects us with the provision of the cross (in our case it is in full awareness of the accomplishment of the cross).
We saw from above that there was something else that was happening with Levi. Levi wanted to share Jesus with others. Levi's encounter and response to Christ results in a radical impact on his life. Have no doubt about it - Levi was a new person in Christ. He wanted to share Jesus with others so that they too could have the "new life" he had just entered into. We need to share Jesus with others as well but again we cannot not do it in the way that Levi did because Jesus is not physically present. Levi invited people to a banquet with Jesus as the guest of honor. What is it that we want to invite people to join us in? I cannot say to others that I'm holding a banquet at my house where Jesus will present as the guest of honor and you are invited. Remember, that Levi invited the people he knew prior to embracing Christ. We too, need to keep connected with people we know who have not yet embraced Christ. By staying connected they will be able to see our relationship with Christ and the opportunities will come to invite them to enter into the same spiritual relationship we have with Christ.
Easter is coming and we have the opportunity to invite people to church that we know need Christ. Again it cannot be like Levi who invited his friends to a banquet where Jesus was physically present as the guest of honor. When God's people get together with everyone caught up in the deep, personal, spiritual connection they have with Christ, he is present spiritually in a beautiful and powerful way. Those we invite to our Easter Celebration can come and experience the presence of Christ in ways that will draw them to the Savior. We are not inviting people to a great building. We are not inviting people to an upbeat and well attended meeting. We are not inviting people to a stimulating experence of music and public speaking. Matthew 23 reminds us that we must not be like the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees where everything was done for show. We are also reminded that only God must be our focus. And finally, we are reminded we are called to servanthood and humility. We are inviting people to come and see what God is doing in our midst through the living presence of the Risen Christ who fills the hearts and lives of his people.
Lord, convince us that your desires for us are not burdensome. Helps us to lean hard on you and let you touch our hearts and lives in beautiful and powerful ways. Lord, may you be seen in our lives both individually and collectively in ways that reach those who still need you. Deliver us and protect us from anything that interferes with our following you fully and completely.
Posted on Fri, March 20, 2015
by Ken Hart