Summary: This is the story of the calling of the tax collector Levi. The focus of the message is that no one is beyond the grace of God. Jesus was not so much concerned about what Levi was, but about what Levi could become
Gospel of Luke 5:27-32 - From Crook to World Changer
We are in a message series on the Gospel of Luke
The word “gospel” literally means “good news”
So, you could say that this series is about “The good news of Luke”
What exactly is this good news?
Simply put, it’s the life story of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most influential person who has ever existed
Even if you’re not a Christian, or even a particularly religious person, you cannot deny this fact
No one life has affected the whole of humanity more than Jesus Christ
Since He has affected the world so deeply you would think that all of us would know a lot about Him, but unfortunately that is not true
Many claim to know about Jesus, but in reality few people really do
The Gospel of Luke details the events of Jesus’ life from His birth to His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection
Luke is written by a Gentile to a Gentile audience
Since the vast majority of us listening to this message are Gentiles I think it’s very appropriate that we study this Gospel
Let’s jump right into our passage for today in Luke chapter 5
Luke 5:27-32 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, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 31 Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
This is a really cool story and gives us a fantastic lesson!
However, like many Bible stories, you really need to understand the historical context to get the full meaning
The big thing that we need to understand is the rolls of tax collectors in society during this time
The job title “tax collector” doesn’t hold the same emotions today as it did back then
Even though none of us like paying taxes, we usually don’t freak out over someone being a tax collector
In our society today that job is no different than any other
However it was quite different in Jesus’ day
The first thing we need to understand is the political climate
Israel was under Roman occupation
The Roman empire had conquered Israel and was ruling them
This, as you can imagine, didn’t sit too well with the Israelis
I can’t say as I blame them – if the United States was invaded and we were under the rule of another country I don’t think there would be too many people that would like that
To put it mildly – the Israelis HATED the Romans with a passion!
As I mentioned a few moments ago nobody likes paying taxes, but could you imagine how much worse it would be if you had to pay taxes to an occupying government that you hated?
Every time you had to pay your taxes it would be a reminder – a slap in the face if you will – that you and your country were not free
Whenever possible the Romans liked to use locals to collect their taxes
This meant that tax collectors were looked upon by the average person as traitors
In addition to being looked upon as traitors they were also considered criminals
The reason why is that Rome didn’t care if the tax collectors overcharged the people – as long as Rome got it’s share it was perfectly fine for the tax collectors to pocket any extra they collected
So tax collectors were considered traitorous criminals and were by and large hated by the general population
So with this in mind let’s go back to our story
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, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
These two verses are, in my opinion, two of the greatest verses in this entire Gospel account
Why do I say that?
Let’s look at what’s happening here
Jesus just left the house where the paralytic was lowered through the roof (see last weeks message)
He’s walking along and comes across a tax collector named Levi
I am certain that there were people following Jesus – it was hard for Him to go anywhere without drawing a huge crowd