#915. Jesus goes to a banquet (9/10/23)
Today, we continue in our Luke -Exploring who Jesus is - series.
‘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. 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?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”’ (Luke 5:27-33)
Lesson: If we are truly seeking to reach those who don’t know Jesus, we will, on occasion, be misunderstood as being in compromise.
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Although we must do all we can to avoid it, one cannot live the Christian life without being misunderstood by those outside and, on occasion, by those within the church. After Levi, the tax collector, becomes a disciple of Jesus, Luke records that Jesus went to a banquet that Levi had put on for his friends. Levi’s immediate desire is that others come to know Jesus as well. When God is at work in someone, they will want others to know God. A church that is in fellowship with Jesus will also work together to help bring their community to Jesus.
Jesus is criticised for going to this party. The religious leaders complained, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” I’m sure that we can see that these judgmental people would never be effective in drawing people closer to God. Their only influence would have been to create hypocrisy. These kinds of leaders create people who do things for show - those who want to be seen as keeping the rules.
Jesus defends His choice to associate with ‘sinners’ by saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus reminds them that if He is to help those who are far from God, He has to get near to those who are far from God. Likewise, if a Christian is to reach their community for Jesus, they have to go into their community in various ways.
Our going into the community requires wisdom. We must be cautious of temptation and being led into sin. This being said, the need of those who are without Christ requires that we go outside of our comfort zone to ‘let our light shine’. Paul writes of His method or reaching those from different backgrounds:
‘Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible…I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.’ (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22)
This attitude and approach is the practical outworking of what it means to ‘fish for people’ that Luke mentions at the beginning of Luke 5. We will never ‘fish for men’ and fulfil our commission if we are not prepared to leave our comfortable shore!
If we are truly seeking to reach those who don’t know Jesus, we will, on occasion, be misunderstood as being in compromise. When do you befriend those who are outside the faith? Do we expect them to come to our meetings and events while being unprepared to go to theirs?
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
This week is our week of prayer so we won't be meeting in our Community Groups.
Please go to Church News or contact the office or your CG leader for more details.