Luke 5:27 ¶ After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.”
Luke 5:28 And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
Luke 5:29 ¶ Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them.
Luke 5:30 The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Luke 5:31 Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;
Luke 5:32 I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
As a result of his work as a tax collector Levi was a wealthy man. Unfortunately the way in which tax collectors became wealthy was by taking advantage of those around them and overcharging them for their taxes. They were not viewed fondly within society. Levi chose to leave this life behind and follow Jesus. We can venture to guess that he is never wealthy again.
With gratitude in his heart Levi reached out for his friends to know about Jesus as well. He invited them all to his home so that they, too, could hear the words of Jesus. Out of a heart of overwhelming gratitude to the salvation he had found in Christ he spread a table of hospitality for Jesus and his friends. We don’t know the result of this banquet but the act itself is important enough that it is recorded here by Luke. Interestingly Matthew, in the gospel which bears his name, does not record this story. He has no desire to have attention or be praised for his behavior. More than likely he simply saw this as the normal response of one who was saved — desiring to give all that they had to Jesus.
I love the response of Levi. I wonder what a difference it might make if we all responded in just such a way. In him we see humility and gratitude for what Christ has done. He immediately acts on his experience and invites others to know Christ.
I’m afraid that far too many of us might find ourselves with the Pharisees and their scribes who complained that Jesus was hanging out with tax collectors and sinners. He was spending time fellowshipping right in their midst. I’m sure they saw this as a terrible impurity, that Jesus would be contaminated by those around him. This is not the case, for Jesus brings with him his holiness and there is nothing in the world that can make him unclean. He goes into the midst of darkness and brings light. This is what he was doing at Levi’s home.
If we are to be a reflection of Jesus in the world, then why would we find ourselves on the outside with the Pharisees and their scribes? Instead, it seems to me, that we would find ourselves inside, bringing Jesus to those who are in need.
Levi is an example to us of gratitude, but Jesus becomes an example as well. Both of them lead us into fellowship with those who are in desperate need. It is with a heart of gratitude that we prepare the place for Jesus, but also that we follow him and minister in his name.
Lord, may I serve you in gratitude on a daily basis! Amen.