Dear Student of the Word,
I trust you had a blessed Resurrection season and day and you are energized in your faith to trust God for the impossible, for if God can raise the dead, He can do anything! Here is your next installment in our study of Luke's gospel. This week we look at the early days of Jesus' public ministry from Luke's account and, as usual, we learn much about who Jesus was and what His values were. Here is what I wrote in part three of this seven-part study, which is below in its entirety:
Study Nine, Part Three
27 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, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. 29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 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'?" 31 Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
5:27&28 – Levi, also called Matthew, responded immediately to His Master’s invitation and left everything to follow Him. That is the model for how to follow Jesus: He speaks and you obey, totally and without reservation, just like Abraham did when God spoke to him to sacrifice his son, Isaac: “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3).
5:29 – It is my humble opinion that Levi was familiar with Jesus and His ministry, or at least His reputation What is the first thing that Levi did? He held a banquet and invited the very people that Jesus was trying to reach—the so-called sinners! If the Church could only recapture this truth—the church is a hospital for sinners and not a rest home for saints. Spending time with a sinner doesn’t endorse their lifestyle or behavior, but it does endorse God’s love for them and His desire that they repent. What is your attitude toward “sinners” these days?
5:30 – The Pharisees didn’t complain to Jesus about His behavior; they complained to His disciples. They were trying to influence the disciples into a more “Jewish” mindset toward these tax collectors. Did you know that the Pharisees would not accept money for the poor from a tax collector? That is how much they hated them and their money, for the tax gatherers were considered agents of Rome being used against their own people of Israel.
Are you worried about contamination when you “touch” a sinner? If what you have can be affected by what someone else has, then you must ask yourself what it is that you have! Jesus was never worried about a sinner bringing Him “down”; His goal was to bring the sinner “up.” With that in mind, Jesus spent a lot of time with sinners.
5:31&32 – I don’t know if Jesus overheard what the Pharisees said or whether the disciples reported it to Him. Maybe He even knew the thoughts of their hearts as He had done earlier. At any rate, He responded as a man of purpose, for He knew why He had come and what He was to do while He was here. Dr. Jesus was here to treat His patients who were morally sick, weighed down by guilt and condemnation. He was only too happy to treat anyone who understood their sickness and wanted His help.
This should be the attitude and mission of the Church as well. God is not angry with the world, but the Church sometimes is. We must reflect the attitude of Jesus and not our own. What’s more, Jesus didn’t wait for the sinners to come to Him; rather, He went to them. The Church needs to step out from the spiritual “ghetto” that it has built for itself and engage the world, where the sinners live. Rather than run into the ghetto to escape the sinners, the Church needs to run into the outside world, to seek and save the lost like Jesus did.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the daily devotional entitled What Would Jesus Ask You Today? Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy this study of Luke's gospel from God's word.
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