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 5:27-31
Sometimes scripture is soothing. Reading Revelation 21 at the deathbed of a loved one, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes…I am making all things new!” The Word brings the peace of God.
Sometimes scripture is informative. Reading through Exodus, one will stumble across 16:36, “An omer is a tenth of an ephah.” Good to know. Thank you Lord for your Word.
Sometimes scripture is joyful and leads us to song. Reading Psalm 100, “Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” These words conjure images of God’s people rejoicing in his gifts, praising him with all of their might.
And sometimes, scripture challenges us to think differently, believe deeply, serve wholeheartedly, live faithfully. Luke 5 is one of those challenges.
Levi, also called Matthew, was minding his own business at the tax collector’s booth. Look closely at the account. Levi doesn’t come to Jesus – Jesus sees Levi. He walks up to him and simply says, “Follow me.” In that instance, Levi’s world is completely changed. How does he respond? He throws a huge party in honor of Jesus and invites all of his friends. Levi wanted his friends to meet Jesus. Jesus seems perfectly happy to meet them too.
To be perfectly honest with you, that isn’t the part of the story that is the most challenging for me. The most challenging part comes next. Jesus is confronted by the religious leaders of the day for doing what they don’t think he should be doing. His response is pretty succinct, “This is precisely why I am here!” He came to be with those who didn’t know him. He came to call sinners to repentance that they might be forgiven.
The religious leaders asked Jesus, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners?’” Therein is the challenge. It is a challenge for us, not Jesus. I imagine that Jesus wants to ask us the exact opposite question, “Why don’t you?” God is calling us to love whom he loves, to serve whom he serves. So here’s the challenge for the day – you didn’t ask for it, neither did Levi – with whom are you eating? Sometimes scripture is challenging.