We’ve already established that Jesus has the authority and authenticity to call people to follow Him (5.11) and that He is able to heal both physically and ceremonially (5.17-26). Here now we see these things come together in a spectacular way.
“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax booth. “Follow me,” he said to him. And he got up and followed him, leaving everything behind.
Then Levi gave a great banquet in his house for Jesus, and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. But the Pharisees and their experts in the law complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “Those who are well don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.””
Again, so simple: “Follow me”.
Levi is so overjoyed with his new call and commission that he gave a great banquet in his house for Jesus. There were also others there; tax collectors, Pharisees, experts in the law, and disciples. A question arrises and Jesus answers,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered them, “Those who are well don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
So, is He lying? Is this lunacy?
He’s obviously not lying, is He? He’s there and eating and drinking with tax collectors. Eating and drinking with someone in this culture and context was akin to saying “Yeah, we’re buddies”. It was a big statement to make.
Is this lunacy then? Tax collectors, so I understand, were viewed as traitors and turncoats by fellow Jews because they were working for the Romans (and often on the take themselves, too). So for Jesus to pronounce this gathering as full of sick…sinners…shows that He understands the socio-political environment of the day and the occasion. Not lunacy, then.
I love what the Lord said about sick people and doctors, don’t you? Again, it’s true (not a lie) and corresponds to reality (not lunacy).
“Those who are well don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
The point is that Jesus came to call sinners to repentance. Levi admitted his sin and followed Jesus. The Pharisees saw and believed they were above the repentance Jesus called for and the forgiveness He offered (v.30).
How about you? Here’s three things to consider today:
- Are you willing to take these words of “Follow me” as an invitation to repent of former ways and be forgiven?
- Are you willing to admit – as Levi did here – that Jesus offers you something that you won’t get anywhere else?
- Are you willing to admit that, yes, healthy people don’t need a doctor, but I certainly do need the healing, the restoration, and the forgiveness of sins that Jesus offers?
If you have enjoyed or been encouraged by the teaching here, would you consider donating to keep the site running?
You can do so here.