Summary: In this sermon we learn what happens when a person is converted to Christ.
The four Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Gospel authors are often called “evangelists.” One reason they are called evangelists is because each author wanted to communicate the good news of salvation in such a way that unbelievers would understand, believe, and be saved.
Last time we examined the account of Jesus calling a man named Levi to follow him. Remarkably, Levi, who was a hated tax collector, immediately left everything and followed Jesus. Levi was dramatically saved and became not only a disciple of Jesus but also an apostle of Jesus. Today, he is better known as Matthew, the author of the first Gospel.
After Levi left everything to follow Jesus, he threw a great party for all his friends. Jesus, of course, was there too, dining with sinners, the friends of Levi.
Let’s read about Jesus dining with sinners in Luke 5:29-32. Let’s begin reading at verse 27:
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
29 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. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered 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.” (Luke 5:29-32)
Jacob de Shazer was sent as one of Jimmy Dootlittle’s raiders on Japan on April 18, 1942. At the time he was an atheist, believing in no God. During the air attack enemy anti-aircraft bullets hit his plane and he was forced to bail out. He was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese for 40 months – 34 of them in solitary confinement. During his imprisonment he thought certainly his life was approaching the end. He saw three of his companions shot by a firing squad and saw another die of slow starvation.
During the long months of imprisonment he pondered the question of why the Japanese hated him and why he hated them. He began to recall some of the things he had heard about Christianity.
Boldly, he asked his jailers if they could get him a Bible. At first they laughed boisterously as at a good joke, grew ugly, and warned him to stop making a nuisance of himself. But he kept asking. A year-and-a-half later, in May 1944, a guard finally brought him a Bible, flung it at him, and said, “Three weeks you have. Three weeks, and then I take away.” True to his word, in three weeks the guard took the Bible away and De Shazer never saw it again.
However, in those three weeks of intensive searching in the Bible, De Shazer came to understand the gospel. He saw God as utterly holy and himself as utterly sinful. He learned that God sent Jesus into the world to pay the penalty for his sin. He repented of his sin and turned in faith to trust in Jesus as the one who paid the penalty for his sin. De Shazer was converted to Christ and became a changed man.
As the war came to an end, De Shazer was released from Japanese captivity on August 20, 1945 and he returned home.
However, in 1948, De Shazer, his wife, and infant son were on their way back to Japan as missionaries, where he served for thirty years, all because he was converted to Christ.
When a person is converted to Christ, remarkable changes take place in that person’s life. This may not be as evident in a person who is converted as a young child. But, people who are converted to Christ when they are older see very noticeable changes in their lives.
When Jesus met Levi that day in Galilee and called Levi to follow him, Levi was dramatically converted. His life was completely changed.
The analysis of the conversion of Levi as set forth in Luke 5:29-32 illustrates what happens when a person is converted to Christ.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. Conversion Brings Joy (5:29a)
2. Conversion Produces Evangelism (5:29b)
3. Conversion Provokes Criticism (5:30)
4. Conversion Concerns Sinners (5:31-32)
I. Conversion Brings Joy (5:29a)
First, we learn that conversion brings joy.
Let me recap briefly. Tax collectors were among the most hated people by the Jews in those days. At that time the country of Israel was occupied by the Romans and was therefore subject to Roman rule. The Romans employed Jews to collect taxes for them, and so tax collectors were regarded as traitors.