Levi [Matthew] held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 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?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:29-32
Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. Luke 12:35-37
Dear Lord Jesus, I can’t read this story without fueling my longing for the banquet of all banquets—the great wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19). So who will be privileged to sit and be served by you on that great Day? A most unlikely list of dinner guests, indeed. A pan-national family ill-deserving men and women, just like me, who’ve been saved by grace alone through faith alone. Tax collectors and “sinners,” the sick and the weary, Pharisees and teachers of the law who’ve been clothed in the wedding garments of your righteousness. What free and joyful love, you lavish upon us!
Lord Jesus, I praise you for making me a part of your broken-yet-beloved bride; for calling me, healing me, saving me. I have no problem acknowledging my sickness and receiving your remedy, for there’s no greater friend of sinners than you. Thank you for eating and drinking, reclining and dining, fellowshipping and communing with the likes of me.
O that this welcoming gospel would taken hold more deeply in our churches; O that we would be criticized by Pharisees and “older brothers” (Luke 15) for all the sick people, broken sinners, and cultural misfits who gathered there. May we grieve when your welcoming heart is not extended in our churches, as you intend and the gospel commends. We’re not “used-to-be-sinners”; we’re those who still need your grace and mercy every single day. Never let us forget this, Lord.
Oh, to be more like Levi—to be so impacted by your love, Lord Jesus, that I’m constantly throwing mini-banquets for friends and “outsiders”. Turn my lunch appointments into a threesome, with you and a friend. Turn my family gatherings into occasions where you’re always filling the empty seat. Make this concave heart of mine much more convex, much more friendly to outsiders, much more like yours, Jesus; much more accommodating, unrushed and joyful. So very Amen I pray, in your merciful and mighty name.