Luke 5: 27-29 “He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him. And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.”
In the fifth chapter of Luke, he tells the story of Levi the tax collector, who will be known as Matthew. Tax collectors during the time of Jesus were hated for several reasons, mostly because they were Jews collecting taxes for Rome since Israel was occupied by them. A tax collector could stop a person on the street, demand to see what they were carrying, and make them pay a tax. The tax laws weren’t really common knowledge, so those taxed always felt as if a tax collector was taking advantage of them, and usually they were. They would collect the tax, but extort a portion for themselves. Tax collectors really had a bad reputation and it was well deserved. In Luke 5, we learn that’s the job Matthew has…
There is this something that shows up in this verse, that maybe we need to be reminded of … look what Matthew does, he throws a party. He meets Jesus and his reaction is to throw a party to introduce the King. He puts out a big ole spread (I wonder if there was yummy hummus) and invites all his co-workers and his friends, and his new friends that he’s made that had been following Jesus around. Most of us have no problem throwing parties. We have birthday parties, anniversary parties, retirement parties, engagement parties, those “sell you something” parties but Matthew throws a “meet Jesus party”.
But a bigger deal than Matthew throwing a party, is look who is invited to sit at his table: “and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.” Tax collectors and sinners. Luke 5: 30 says “The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners.?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick’.”
Who are we inviting to sit at our table? Is it only our “Christian” friends, our church friends, our family? To know THE King, and to want others to know Him, we need to diversify our tables. Plan a party, serve a feast, and invite those not in the Kingdom to celebrate the King. Show them what He is all about. It’s the example Jesus clearly models for us and it cannot be disputed. So get out the china or the paper plates, get that menu together, order take out if needed and get busy with those invitations for new friends.
Permission to party friends, and special thanks to Matthew for showing us how it’s done.