Summary: Working through the Gospel of Luke using consecutive expository preaching. Still in Chapter 5.
“Calling Sinners to Repentance”
A sermon for 4/11/21
Harmony & Swansonville UMC
Luke 5 “27 After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” 28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.
29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. 30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31 Jesus answered and said to 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.”
This week I return to where we left in Luke 5. The last time we were here, we watched as several folks brought their friend to Jesus on a stretcher. The Messiah healed the man and commended the faith of the friends. Now, the story returns to Jesus’ calling of disciples. He takes the invitation to one of the most dis-liked kind of people in the whole culture – the dreaded tax collector. Last week, I read Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount (chapter 5) in which He warns us not to be like the tax collectors. Why were they looked upon in this way?
Tax collectors were in all parts of the Roman Empire. They were natives of the country in which they worked, but they were hired by the Roman officials to collect taxes. If folks hated the Romans for controlling their land – they also hated those who worked for them. And since NOBODY likes to pay taxes – the tax collectors received a special kind of scorn. When Jesus approaches Levi, he is busy with his work of collecting the surcharge required when a person traveled from one city/town to another. (NIV Application Commentary – Luke p. 159) Levi accepts Jesus’ invitation and responds by throwing a party!
Now, there are lots of reasons to have a party – birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, having a baby (now they have very elaborate gender reveal announcements – not when my kids came along), holidays and even for big sports events. You may have had parties for some or all of these reasons, but I’m pretty sure none of you ever had a “COME MEET MY JESUS” party. That’s what Levi did. This was not a chance for Levi to introduce Jesus to his friends – no, it’s the other way around. This is Jesus, the one who will accept you no matter who you are, despised tax collector or smelly fisherman. Jesus sat to eat with all of them – the same way He invited you and me - Revelation 3:20 “20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
It was this dining with “others” that bothers the Pharisees so much that they complain to the disciples. You see – sitting with someone to eat, by their standards, meant you approved of their sinful lifestyle. The Pharisees had nothing to offer these “sinners” but condemnation. We hear this in the prayer offered by the Pharisee in Luke 18 – “11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’”
Do I need to explain to any of you why that is NOT a good prayer? Thank God!
Jesus came to offer the Grace of a Loving Father to all who will receive – who will open the door. Imagine if we – the local church – kept that Grace of God behind these stained-glass windows and four walls. How would the world hear? Would we stand under the same condemnation reserved for the Pharisees and religious folks of that day?
If we are keeping grace in here and if we live in fear, avoiding the outside world, like the World has been under quarantine from fear of a virus – then we need to hear the words of Jesus again this day – “31 Jesus answered and said to 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.”
When the patient calls the doctor – then she or he admits the need for help.
When the alcoholic / addict goes to a meeting – then he or she admits the need for help.