After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 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. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32
Jesus is grace extended to us. He went out and talked to the tax collector. This didn’t make Jesus “unclean”; it brought the tax collector to repentance. It ended Levi’s old life and began a new one. The exuberant tax collector changed his ways and made a great feast in his house to introduce his tax collector friends to Jesus. The celebration brought criticism to both Jesus and the tax collector, but God was glorified, new believers were established and Kingdom growth occurred. Jesus brings love and forgiveness to the sinner rather than being defiled by association. Jesus’ way with sinners was not to shout at them from a distance, but to spend time with them face to face.
We are Jesus’ grace extended to others. We are not defiled by associating with those who need the Savior, either. It seems the longer we have been his follower the more we become isolated from the people we are supposed to reach. Fight this and go. Talk to your neighbors. Get face to face. Jesus asks us to do for others what he did for us. He received us as sinners. Because of the joy of our salvation, Jesus wants us to bring others to receive his salvation also. May we be like Levi, so happy about our transformed life that we can’t resist sharing what Jesus has done.
Levi began his new life by hosting a dinner. He invited his friends to meet Jesus, his honored guest. There is power at the table. Walls fall down when bellies fill up. There is openness and opportunity. Eating the feast means being welcomed into a more established relationship. Jesus’ welcoming grace extends to all unconditionally. Think of him inviting you to sup with him today. How would you feel? Excited, nervous, suspicious, ashamed, honored? Why might that be? What insight does this give you in extending his grace to others?
By Donna Burns