Summary: In the short story of Levi’s call, we find that no one is too sinful to be beyond the grace and love of Jesus.
WHY DOES HE EAT AND DRINK WITH PUBLICANS AND SINNERS?
Text: Mark 2:13 – 22
• How would you feel if we put a sign outside of our church that said “Homosexuals welcome”?
• What about if Jim took the bus and brought back 5 drunks next Sunday morning?
• What if we announced that we were going to have a special service and dinner for drug addicts?
• In some congregations, the majority of the members would stop going.
• We sometimes feel that church is only for people just like us, and everyone else should stay away.
• In this short story about the conversion of Levi, we find a group of people that felt that way.
• Let’s look at what happened with each of the characters in this story.
• Changed his name to Matthew after his conversion (means “gift of God”).
• Was a publican, or tax collector.
• Capernaum was on a major trade route, Levi was collecting import and export taxes for Herod.
• Levi was a hated man – tax collectors extracted as much money as they could get and lined their pockets with the surplus.
• We are not told if Levi was guilty of this, but he was guilty by association according to the Jews.
• Tax collectors were considered extortionists and traitors because they worked for the Roman government.
A. Levi had probably heard Jesus teach and preach many times. (v. 13)
• Notice “again”.
• Maybe had heard the message given when Simon, Andrew, James, and John had been called.
• Maybe in the crowds that came to Jesus in Capernaum for healing and expelling of demons.
• Maybe in the crowd when the man sick of the palsy had been healed.
• Rabbis in Jesus’ day had a habit of teaching while they walked from place to place; their disciples would walk along and listen.
B. Levi left everything to follow Jesus. (v. 14)
• Levi gave up the most out of all the apostles.
• Simon, Andrew, James, and John could always go back to fishing.
• Once Levi walked away from his office, he could never get his job back.
• Levi decided right then and there that he was going to follow Jesus. (Find out why in a few minutes.)
• What are you asked to leave behind in order to follow Jesus?
• Friends, a job, a habit?
C. Levi created an opportunity to introduce his friends to Jesus. (v. 15)
• Thomas Long, Shepherd and Bathrobes – staying in a motel in a large city, found a note posted on elevator door: “Party tonight! Room 210. 8:00 pm. Everyone invited!”
• He imagined odd assortment of people who might show up – tired salesmen, bored vacationers, weary travelers, curious people; all looking for a break in their day and a little festivity, not wanting to be left out of something exciting. The sign was a hoax – no party.
• “For a brief moment, those of us staying at the motel were tantalized by the possibility that there just might be a party going on somewhere to which we were all invited – a party where it didn’t make much difference who we were when we walked in the door, or what motivated us to come; a party we could come to out of boredom, loneliness, curiosity, responsibility, eagerness to be in fellowship, or simply out of a desire to come and see what was happening; a party where it didn’t matter nearly as much what got us in the door, as what would happen to us after we arrived.”
• Matthew doesn’t wait to invite his friends to the synagogue on the Sabbath; he throws a party so that his old friends could rub elbows with his new friends.
• This is why we do things like Praise at the Park, the Singing on the Deck, the Ladies’ Tea, and the Fall Festival, so that our unsaved friends can meet our saved friends in a non-threatening way.
• The result? They all followed Jesus, just like Levi.
II. The Scribes and Pharisees.
A. The scribes and Pharisees were too religious to care about the needs of others. (v. 16)
• Scribes were professional interpreters of the OT.
• Pharisees were an extremely strict and ritualistic religious party, concerned more with the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law.
• Pharisees taught that it was forbidden to have anything to do with publicans and sinners; not allowed in synagogue; must not talk to them or go on a journey with them; avoid doing business with them if at all possible; marrying a daughter to one of them was like giving her over to a wild beast; must not accept hospitality from them.