Table Fellowship


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.” 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. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32 I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 5:33   Then they said to him, “John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink. 34 Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 


Luke is the only author who identifies Levi as a tax collector. The significance of this story is the calling of Levi, his past, and the way in which Jesus responded to him. This man answers the call from Jesus and then throws a great banquet for him, where all the sinners of the community come to have fellowship. For the religious leaders of the day, this was appalling. For Jesus, it was an incredible opportunity to be in the midst of a group of people who were in need of the great physician. Why not go to the people who are sick? 

The religious leaders didn’t understand the importance of Jesus’ table fellowship. Instead, they condemned him for his activity, instructing him and his followers to pull back, separate themselves from these sinners and spend time in prayer and fasting. It’s then that Jesus gives the analogy of the wedding feast and the bridegroom. No one fasts during a party! This wasn’t the time for prayer and fasting, it was the time of table fellowship, a place where the unbelief of people like Levi would be awakened. 


Dr. Hans Rohling was from Sweden but served in community health in Mozambique. He area of specialty was infant mortality, and his desire was to help treat as many babies as possible in the area where he was serving. He began studying the statistics of his community and discovered that while some babies died in the hospital where he worked, hundreds more were dying in the community. Many of his colleagues challenged his assumption that his energy was better spent on improving community health and thereby dropping the overall infant mortality rate. His friends wanted him to stay in the hospital and use every bit of the latest technology available to save a few lives. He thought he ought to go out into the villages and homes and try to change the conditions so that there would be fewer babies that came to the hospital. Eventually he was able to change the culture of the entire community and the lives of hundreds of children were saved every year, but his actions were not without controversy. 

When we spend all of our time in the church (hospital), making it as nice as it can be, we may only be reaching a few sick individuals a year. Yes, we may be able to bring everything to the forefront to help them and we see great transformation, but what about the hundreds who are in our communities who are dying? Just like the Great Physician, we need to go and find the sick. This means looking for opportunities of table fellowship wth those whom the religious officials just may find offensive. 

There are times when we are called to fast and pray, but they ought to be moments that empower us to go and have table fellowship. Then we must pray that those become moments where the unbelief of those like Levi will be awakened. 


Lord, may I boldly follow you into table fellowship. Amen. 


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