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 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.”
I love this section of scripture! This story was also recorded in two other gospels: Matthew and Mark. The only significant difference in the accounts is the use of the name "Matthew" (great name by the way...) rather than "Levi" (same person).
This story is astounding! Jesus calls Matthew, the tax collector and all together bad dude, to give up everything and follow him. So he did! And where did they go first? Straight to Matthews house to eat and drink with his tax collector and sinner friends!
Rather than leading Matthew away from his sinful friends Jesus lead him right back to the unredeemed for a party. Then enter the religious leaders... "Jesus, Why do you eat with these sinners?" Jesus then shows his intent in partying with the sinner... "I did not come for the righteous but the sinner... I came to call them to repentance!"
Part of Jesus' mission strategy was to call people to follow him and to lead those people back to their neighborhoods, and friends to EAT & DRINK with them... all for the sake of their redemption!
Now that is a missional strategy our church can adopt! Church family, let's be busy continually calling people to follow Christ, lets step into the lives of those who need Christ by sharing meals with them... in our homes and in theirs. A shared meal is common and level ground. Sharing a meal says: "you matter to me." A shared meal offers opportunity for the community of faith to be a part of the broader community for the sake of their salvation. It gives opportunity for relationship, grace giving, prayer, care and more...
What better time of the year to share a meal and the love of Christ with friends, neighbors, coworkers and family than the coming holiday season. Church family, let's be busy the next few months intentionally sharing our table with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers for the sake of their salvation.