Meals with Jesus: Lunch with Levi – Luke 5:27-32

23 Jul 2023

Meals with Jesus: Lunch with Levi – Luke 5:27-32

Passage Luke 5:27-32

Speaker Ben Tanner

Series Meals With Jesus


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Right. The calling of Levi. After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. Follow me, Jesus said to him. And Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

Then Levi told the great, 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 the sinners to repentance.

Thank you so much, Amy, for reading that for us. Please do have your service sheets to hand because the Bible passage we are looking at is there on those sheets for us to look at and to enjoy.

Let me add my welcome as well to that of Chris earlier. If we have not met, I'm Ben and it's really lovely to see you. It's really great to be together. The most important thing that we're going to do today is that we're going to hear God speak in his word. Read.

And now as we look at it. And so I'm simply going to ask God to help us as we spend time in God's word this morning. So let's pray together, shall we? Father God, thank you so much that we don't have to pretend when we come to you, but that Jesus meets real people like us in real situations. Help us today to see Jesus is the doctor that.

That we need. And help us to see that he is the doctor who has come for this whole world. Amen. Amen. You can tell a lot by a guest list, can't you?

I'm going to a wedding tomorrow. Very much looking forward to it. And you can tell a lot about the people who are getting married by who's on the guest list, who do they enjoy hanging out with? And so I have asked a couple of people to give me some ideas of who they might have as a guest list for an imaginary party that they are holding. The two people who I have asked are Chris Booth at the back.

Chris, who is a physics professor, retired, is running our tech stuff, is a man of many years of learning. And also Simi Evans. Simi is a man of great learning, having finished reception at Totley All Saints school. And I'm gonna read out their guest list. And I know this is a bit tricky, but I wonder if you can work out which guest list belongs to who they've each got three people that they are inviting.

Okay, so guest list. One includes Jesus, Nelson Mandela, he used to be the president of South Africa. And Richard Feynman, a very famous physicist. Now, don't guess yet. I'm going to give you a bit more help.

The second list includes fireman Sam, Pikachu and Bluey. And the question is this, which of those lists belonged to Simi? Put your hand up if you think it was the first list. Great. Wow, Simi, a few people here think you are very into Richard Feynman's physicsness.

How about to Chris? That first list? Most people think it's to Chris. That's right. Which means that that second one is Simi's list.

And there are some fantastic people on those lists. And you can tell whose list they are because Simi is much more likely to want to hang out with fireman Sam. And Chris is much more likely to want to hang out with a boring physicist. I mean, an interesting physicist. You can tell a lot, can't you, about who you have tea with?

We're starting a series this summer where we're going to think about a number of meals that Jesus has with different people in the book of Luke. And we're going to tell a lot about Jesus by the people that he is eating with and having a meal with. And our first person is this chap, Levi. And we're going to have a bit of a think about Levi. So I'm going to need somebody to help me as a bit of a volunteer and.

Great. Yeah. Sam, why don't you come on out? You can be Levi for us. And so Sam here is going to be Levi.

And Levi, we are told, is sat at a tax collector's booth, which means that you are a tax collector. Now, what do we feel about tax collectors, do you think if we were going goody baddie, what do you reckon? Not very good. Not very good. Well, let's get you dressed up here.

I'm gonna put you in a nice. It might be a little bit too big for you, but that's okay. Well, we've got to find some use for these, these dresses. So they get. Pop an arm in that one, I'm really sure.

There you go. You are the spitting image of Levi. There you go. I haven't even got you a beard. And this here is your heart, Levi, can you hold that for me in front?

If I pull your hand through. Great. And maybe if you pull your other hand through, you can hold the other side. Okay, that's great. Levi's a tax collector, which means that he worked for the enemy.

Levi is one of God's people. He's a jewish person by descent, but he works for the Romans. Now, we know that a jewish person who is working for the Romans would have been a little bit like a ukrainian person who was working for the russian army. It would have been somebody who was seen as a bit of a traitor. So we can write on Levi's heart that he was a bit of a traitor.

You're not a traitor. But Levi was.

We can also see when we think about who Levi is. So he was a traitor. But tax collectors, the way that they made their money was that they wouldn't just charge people for the Romans, but they would often overcharge people. They would take money that they weren't entitled to say. If they were a traitor, then they were also.

What's the word for somebody who takes what they're not allowed to take or they're not entitled to somebody. One of our younger people. Yes. At the back there. A thief?

Yes. Okay. So we can say he's a thief.

Do you. Excellent. He's a thief. He's a traitor. He's a thief.

And he's also going to be somebody who's saying that he's owed something that he's not. Now, if I'm telling you that I'm owed something and I'm not, what would that make me? A thief and a liar. A liar. Yeah.

So we've got Levi. I'm not even sure if I spelled that right. Levi, who is a traitor and a thief and a liar. And Jesus is there, we're told that he went out and he saw a tax collector by the name of Levi and he pointed at him and he said, you're a traitor, a thief, a liar. Is that what happens?

What does it say in your text? What does it say?

Sorry, somebody over here was saying, follow me. He walked up to Levi and he said, follow me. Somebody who is a traitor, a thief and a liar. And what did Levi do? Did he say, no, I'm not going to do that?

What does it say in your text? What does it say? What does he do?

We think he says, okay, can anybody read me? What does it say in your text? What does Levi do?

He leaves everything and follows Jesus. This person who is a traitor, a liar, a thief, leaves everything and follows Jesus. In fact, he does more than that. He gets his friends to come together and he sits down and he has a meal with Jesus. Now if you knew somebody who was a traitor, a liar and a thief, not Sam, but Levi.

What do you think their friends would be like?

The same as them. They might also be thieves. They might also be people who were not looked at. In fact, we see later on that they're described as tax collectors and sinners. Imagine for a second a table that had not just yet, but do hold onto it for a moment.

Traitors, liars and thieves. Imagine a table that has people who we would think of as traitors, liars and thieves. What kind of people might we think of? Maybe bullies. Maybe people who've done things and lied about them.

Maybe some politicians, maybe people like Vladimir Putin. Maybe people like Andrew Tate. Imagine for a second if you walked in and you saw Jesus sitting at a table with that kind of people. What's your reaction? I'm not asking you what your churchy reaction is.

How do you react to that? Are you surprised?

Hmm? You see, Jesus has come for people who, if you'd like to turn it over, whose hearts are sinful for people who are sinners. And Jesus explains, he says, I'm like a doctor who has come to call sinners to repentance, if you like. Doctor Jesus comes to heal sinners. Doctor Jesus comes to heal sinners.

And that means that he comes specifically for people like Levi. But there's somebody else in this story. In fact, there are a few. But we're just going to have one other. I'm going to need another volunteer.

Levi, just stay there. You're doing a great job. Another volunteer. And I'm going to go with.

Wonderful. I'm going to go with. Izzy. Izzy, why don't you come on out? Excellent.

Now, I know, but Izzy, you are going to be a Pharisee. That's the other person, or other people who are in our story. And the Pharisees would have worn some nice clothes, like this wonderful white sheet thing. There you go. Wonderful.

There you go. And the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the people that people thought were good people. This is your heart. You want to hold on to that.

And the Pharisees would have been people. They would have been the people who would have been somewhere like this. You see, the Pharisees were very religious.

Ah, religious rubbish writing, Ben. But that's. They're very religious people. The Pharisees would have been people who would have given their money away. They would have.

They would have given to God and to the poor. They would have been people who would have been really up for following the rules.

And we're told that the Pharisees, they come along. I'm just going to step you to one side so we can see Levi over here. The Pharisees, they come along and they see what's going on here. Remember how you felt? Jesus eating with the bullies, the baddies, those people in society?

And they. They didn't ask Jesus. They asked Jesus disciples, what's he doing eating with sinners and tax collectors? It's a good question, isn't it? Wasn't that exactly the question that would have been on our hearts, actually, when we think about this kind of people?

And Jesus answered, didn't he? He said, I have. It's not the healthy little number 31 who need a doctor, but the sick. I've come to call the righteous. I've not come to call the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance.

Now here's the question. Was Jesus saying, I've come for Levi. I've not come for people who are actually doing all right on their own?

Not quite.

What do you say, Izzy? Sad. Because they're sad. Well, yeah, they are. But let's think on this one for a moment.

Let's imagine for a second. Let's imagine that you started living here in Totley recently and you signed up for a new GP and you wandered along to the GP and they took your blood pressure and they maybe took some blood just to cheque that you're okay. And off you went to your GP and you went home, didn't think anything else of it. And later on the GP turned up at your door and knocked and said, I need to see you right away. What do you think of that point?

You're thinking there must be something seriously the matter, aren't you? If a doctor, especially today with a GP, if a doctor comes to find you, there must be something really wrong. You see, the presence of the doctor shows you that there's a problem, doesn't it? Now Jesus has come and he's interacting with Levi and he's interacting with the Pharisees. He's showing them that there is a problem.

You see, the Pharisees are very religious and they're giving money and they're doing rules. They're doing all the rules. But are they right with God? Are they righteous? That's what that word righteous means.

Well, let's think on that. How are they speaking about other people? Are they loving their neighbours as their selves, in the words of Jesus? Well, probably not. Not by the look of it.

Are they the ones who in the story are following Jesus, are inviting their friends to meet Jesus, are leaving everything for Jesus are speaking to Jesus. Well, no, that sounds like. That's Levi, not the Pharisees.

You see, the Pharisees, even though they're very good, their hearts. Do you want to turn it over? Reveal that they too are sinners? They too are sinners. You might be the best person here, but.

But actually, each and every one of us is a sinner. Let me ask you. Have you always loved God more than you've loved anything else?

I'm guessing the answer is no. That's just the first of ten commandments in the Bible. Have we used God's name as a swear word? Have we ever told something that isn't quite true? You see, I think actually, as I talk to you, and I'm convicted by this myself, even just on those three questions, I've revealed that I'm somebody who's an idolater, somebody who puts other things in front of God.

I'm somebody who's a liar. I've told lies. I'm somebody who's a blasphemer. I've. So I've used God's name in a way that wasn't speaking of his holiness and goodness.

And that proves that every single one of us is a sinner. And that then leads me on to a bit of a question.

How on earth is this story good news? Well, this story is good news because who is it? Who's on Jesus guest list? Who did Jesus come for? He came for sinners.

He said, doctor, jesus is not here for well people. But it's great because none of us are well. All of us are sick. All of us are sinners. He has come to call the sinners to repentance.

The amazing news of this story is that there is nobody who is too much of a sinner to come to Jesus. But there is also nobody who is too righteous to need Jesus. Jesus came to call sinners to repentance.

And we're going to be thinking about that as we go through our service in a few minutes time. Because in a few minutes time. Sorry, let me take these and I'll let you guys take a seat. Thank you very much. Well done.

Do take a seat. In a few minutes time, we're going to be coming to take communion together. And the reason why we take communion is it reminds us of what it took for Jesus to be able to forgive sinners, to deal with sin. Doctor Jesus, he didn't just come to this world to eat with sinners, but he came to this world so that we can eat with him. Both today and forever and ever.

He died on a cross to take the place for each and every one of us. We've been singing about it just in that last song. When he died on the cross, he died a sinner's death. A death the kind of tax collector or Myra Hindley or all those other people or you or I need. And he offers us a relationship with him.

Doctor, Jesus is here and he is knocking on the door and he says to you, let me deal with your sin. Let me call sinners to repentance. So I've got some questions for us to think about for a moment or two. And the questions are this, if you are between three and five, let's say if you're under five, here's the question. How is Jesus a bit like a doctor?

How is Jesus a bit like a doctor? If you're between five and seven, I want you to think about this. Do you think that you need Jesus to be a doctor for you?

Eight to eleven, you're going to answer the question. Do you think that there is anybody who cannot be saved, who can't come to Jesus? And over twelves, here's your question. Who are you in this story and how are you showing that? Adults, it's really easy for us to be like patients in an intensive care unit arguing about who's the sickest.

Are they a worse sinner than me? Are they worse than me? But actually all of us need a doctor. You have three minutes. Let's move into those groups.

Answer that question. Under fives, how is Jesus like a doctor? Five to sevens. Do you need Jesus to be a doctor for you? Eight to eleven, can you think of somebody who you think can't be saved?

Is there anybody who can't be saved? And adults, who are you in this story and what are you doing to show that three minutes? Do chat to the people around you and have a bit of a chat about that. Great, off you go. Fantastic.

I'm going to interrupt us there and I'd love to hear from you later on as to some of the things that you have been discussing. So do make sure over coffee we catch up on those. I'm going to pray and why not listen out to some of my thoughts on the answers to those questions in the prayer that I'm going to pray now?

Dear doctor Jesus, thank you that you come for sick people like me, people who are sick with sin. And thank you that you heal sin. Help me not to think that I'm too good, but to trust in you to know that I need you. Help me as I think of my friends. Not to think that any sin is too big for you to deal with.

Help me not to think that they are too far gone, even if they're even worse than Levi.

Please, father, save me from hypocrisy. Save me from looking down on others from self righteousness or thinking that I am okay without you.

Thank you that you have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Help me to follow you willing to leave everything for you. Amen. Amen.