As we read through Luke together on Sunday nights I am more convinced than ever that Jesus is one of coolest cats ever. He’s one of these guys that leave you thinking, “Really!?”
We read this narrative Sunday night,
After this he went out and saw a man named Levi at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” And he did—walked away from everything and went with him. Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?” Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” They asked him, “John’s disciples are well-known for keeping fasts and saying prayers. Also the Pharisees. But you seem to spend most of your time at parties. Why?” Jesus said, “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but this isn’t the time. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time. When the groom is gone, the fasting can begin. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come! “No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put wine in old, cracked bottles; you get strong, clean bottles for your fresh vintage wine. And no one who has ever tasted fine aged wine prefers unaged wine.”
This story is amazing; really and truly amazing. It is one of those moments when Jesus is straight cool. The context is that he has just healed the paralytic who was dropped through the roof by his pals. The outcome of that moment, if you recall, is that Jesus shows that he has real authority to forgive sin.
As he walks out of the house he sees Levi and says, “Follow me.” Levi does and throws him a party with his friends, “crooks and ‘sinners’!” This of course gets the religious leaders all bent out of shape. It doesn’t phase Jesus. He’s there as a physician to heal the broken. He’s bringing the kingdom of God into their midst and he’s doing it around a table.
This is one of the things I love most about Jesus, his holiness attracts the unholy to him. As I read this bit of history I am struck by just how cool Jesus is. He defends and calls to account those at the party. He lived grace and truth.
There are two things that I want to take away from this moment in the life of Jesus. First, we need to be on the lookout for Levis in our world (no, not the jeans but the people). These are “people of peace”. They are people who will open doors of relationship for us.
The second is that we realize what an incredible opportunity we have with our tables. 21 meals a week, how will we use them? Will we be people of peace for Jesus inviting the broken-hearted to our tables?