Matthew 9.9-13, Mark 2.13-.17 & Luke 5.27-32
In the previous meal we saw that one of our responses to God's power at work in our lives is worship. Peter's mother in law is sick in bed. Jesus comes and rebukes the fever making her well again. Out of her gratitude she gets up and serves Jesus and the disciple. (Mark 1.29-.34, Luke 4.38-.41 and Matthew 8.14-.17)
The next meal moves from Peter and Andrew's house to Levi's (also known as Matthew) house. (Matthew 9.9-13, Mark 2.13-.17 & Luke 5.27-.32) Levi is a tax collector. One day he is sitting in his tax collector's both and Jesus sees him. Jesus walks up and tells Levi to “Follow me.” As crazy as it may seem Levi leaves everything and follows Jesus! Something about this short encounter with Jesus cause Levi to follow. None of the Gospels record any contact between Jesus or Levi before this conversation. I feel that Levi must have heard Jesus before. I feel this way because in context of this “calling” you find Jesus teaching and healing by the sea with a large crowd. It is possible that Levi/Matthew was in that crowd or as it got closer heard about what Jesus had been teaching and doing.
The act of following is the first response that we see in this meal story. Jesus doesn't call Levi to do anything but walk where He walks. We are called the same way. Jesus is calling us to follow. That is all. That is all that He expects from us as we start our lives as a follower. He doesn't leave us where He finds us. Instead we are being lead out of our sin and condemnation. We are being lead into an eternal life with the Father!
Following his call, Levi doesn't keep Jesus to himself. He invites all his friends to come and eat with Jesus. Here is our meal. Our second response to Jesus is to share him with others. We are to invite them to follow along with us and bring them into His presence so they can hear His call too. Today we might call this evangelism. What Levi does is so much simpler than what many people think of as evangelism. He doesn't sit down and have a personal Bible study. He doesn't discuss with them about the truth of Jesus. Instead he simply invites them to see Jesus for themselves. He shares what Jesus has done to him with them. Levi brings them into Jesus presense so they too can hear His call. This is what evangelism is all about. It is about sharing what Jesus has done in your life. It is about inviting other broken sinful people to walk with you as you follow Jesus. It is about bringing people into the presence of Jesus so they too can hear His call.
Bible studies are important. How else are you going to know who Jesus is in order to hear the call? Discussing the truth of Jesus is important. How else are people going to know that the historical Jesus is really the Son of God? In my opinion, your personal testimony is just as important. If all your Bible study and all the truth about who Jesus is doesn't change how you live, then it is meaningless. You have to be changed. You have to follow.
As some Pharisees and teachers of the law looked around they discovered that Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners. How could a rabbi do such a thing? How could the Son of God eat with these dirty sinners. He should be with the righteous like them. He should be pointing a condemning finger at “those people.”
Why is Jesus eating with “those people”? The answer is simple “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” He came to call the sinners. That is you and me.
This meal story is so very powerful. We see Jesus calling Levi to simply follow Him where ever he leads and Levi does. We see Levi responding to his call by inviting, sharing and bringing his fellow sinners into the presence of Jesus. Finally, we see that Jesus came to call us in the middle of our sinfulness to follow Him. As we follow Jesus, He leads us out of our sinfulness into eternal life with the Father. What an awesome message to share.