After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. Luke 5:27-29 NIV
Jesus invites Levi to follow him. Levi gets up and follows Jesus. The very next thing Levi does is invite Jesus to a banquet with many of his fellow tax collectors and other “sinners,” as viewed by the Pharisees. Most likely this was not the first time Levi had seen Jesus as he had been in Capernaum for some time. When Levi accepts Jesus’ invitation it is the beginning of a friendship. Levi becomes a friend, a follower and a disciple of Jesus. Then – Jesus accepts Levi’s invitation to eat with, associate with, and become friends with other tax collectors and people from the margins of society.
In ancient Israel making a covenant between two people, or two people groups involved making a sacrifice before God,was concluded with sharing a meal together. Genesis 26:28-31 describes Isaac doing this with Abimelech. Sharing a meal with someone, in Biblical times, signified agreement, friendship, and a putting aside of differences.
Levi allowed Jesus to speak into his life, to teach him about the kingdom of God, to show him how to love God and others. When we allow a friend to get to know us – who we are – what we think – what we believe – we deepen our friendships and grow in our relationships. But of course, often friendship begins with an invitation – just like Levi’s and Jesus’.
Think of someone you would like to get to know better, perhaps a neighbor, a co-worker, even a relative. Think of an activity you could invite that person to do with you so that you could get to know him or her better. It could be a bike ride, taking a walk together, going for a coffee together or eating a sandwich together at a local park. Be willing to talk about yourself, but make sure you listen to what he or she has to say too. Getting to know someone while sharing food or an activity is a great way to begin or deepen a friendship with someone you do not know well. Perhaps an opportunity will present itself to talk about what Jesus means to you, or to be able to listen well to another person’s current difficult situation. Ask God to give you an opportunity to begin a new friendship or deepen one this week.
By Grace Hunter