Lukeby Mike Raiter
As we journey through Luke’s gospel, we are constantly reminded of his main theme: Jesus is the Saviour of the world who takes away our sins (1:67–79; 2:10–11, 28–32; 3:4–6; 4:17–21, 33–44; 5:18–26). We see this again as He meets the tax collector Levi at his tollbooth (v. 27). Few men were more loathed in Israel than the tax collectors. They collected money for the hated Romans and regularly took more than they were entitled to (see Luke 3:13).
It is shocking, then, that Jesus calls a tax collector to follow Him. Levi obeys and his repentance is evidenced by the fact that he leaves “everything” (v. 28). The fact that he then hosts a banquet for his friends reminds us that he didn’t sell everything he owned, but it does mean that the entire orientation of his life changed.
Religious Jews were careful about what they ate and whom they ate with. Both had to be ritually clean. By attending Levi’s “party for sinners”, Jesus is announcing His—and God’s—love and acceptance of them (vv. 29–32).
In response to the angry Pharisees, Jesus again reminds them of the purpose of His mission. Why do you go to the doctor? Because you are unwell and can’t heal yourself. People go to Jesus because they recognise they are spiritually sick. Conversely, many people do not go to Jesus because they persist in the fatal delusion that there is nothing seriously wrong with them. There is only one doctor who can cure our spiritual sickness by forgiving us, and that is Jesus.
How striking it is that Jesus’ ministry was marked by “eating and drinking” (v. 33). Dismiss any idea that Jesus was dour and overly serious. He was a man of joy who celebrated salvation. The true killjoys are the religious leaders who again complain, this time because Jesus is always feasting. Jesus tells them His work of salvation is such a joyful thing that it must be likened to the joy of a wedding when the bridegroom claims his bride (vv. 34–35).
Surely, if Jesus’ life was marked by “eating and drinking”, then a mark of our life together as His people is meeting and celebrating together the joy of salvation.
What blinds people to the seriousness of their spiritual condition before God?
How can we maintain the joy of our salvation? What are some of the things that inhibit our joy?