JESUS CAME TO CALL SINNER TO REPENTANCE
Key Verse: 5:32, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Luke chapter 5 opens, you may remember, with Jesus making a major effort to call Peter and his fishing companions James and John to follow him to begin their new calling in Christ to become fishers of men and women. Chapter 5 ends, as we will see with Jesus spending almost no effort in calling Levi the tax collector to follow him. In my opinion the main message of of todays passage comes from the revelatory words Jesus shares to religious Pharisees and teachers of the Law when they rose up to protest Jesus calling of this infamous tax collector sinner. In my eyes this makes everything equal. Did you ever notice when people who the public labels as hard working noble people attempt to do something worth while and great their is very little protest. On the other hand, when a great sinner wants to do something meaningful and noble people begin to boil up all over the place in protest. Nevertheless, what really impresses me about todays text is how Jesus Christ did not back down in standing up for Levi the infamous tax collector sinner. Jesus was ready to lay it all on the line to protect and justify his calling of Levi to be his disciple just as he would Peter, James and John. This is another of the great and awesome wonders about our Lord Jesus. Even for the least of his disciples, Jesus is willing to do everything to save him, justify him, sanctify him and glorify him. Praise Jesus Christ. There is no Savior like our Lord Jesus Christ.
Look at verse 1: “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.” Levi was a Jewish man who collected taxes from his Jewish brother and sister and gave the money to Rome, which help finance Rome military occupation of Israel. Rome’s payment to him for this service was to allow him to keep all money he was able to collect above the mandatory tax money he was ordered to collect. In other word his job allowed him to finance Roman’s military occupation of His homeland. Plus, using the authority of Rome he took the wealth of his country men and made it his own. Almost every Jew hated these tax collectors more than any other individual. How do you or I feel when someone tries to cheat us out of even five dollars. Levi was even more despicable. He did it repeatedly with large sums of money. Worse he had no remorse. You may have remembered when Dr. John Lee gave the message about Jesus healing a man with leprosy. Leprosy destroys all the senses in the skin so you can no longer feel pain. Levi’s mind and consciousness were sick with spiritual leprosy. He had no ability to empathize and show compassion to to others. We can imagine if someone didn’t pay the taxes he demanded, he would call the Roman authorizes to arrest them and wring every cent from them. Levi was the last person in the world anyone would expect Jesus to call to follow him. Nevertheless, we see Jesus saw him. Strangely when Jesus saw him he did not see him with judging and condemning eyes. Jesus saw him as a man dying in his sins. Matthews Gospel which bible scholars teach the Holy Spirit used Levi to write, has teachings of Jesus that are unique just to that Gospel alone. In Matthew 1 Joseph had decided to divorce Mary quietly when he discovered she was with child. Then 1:21 tells us an angle of the Lord appeared to him and said these words to him: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” This is exactly what Jesus was thinking when he saw Levi. He was thinking about saving him from his sins. Matthew 7:1,2 Reads: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Every day, all day while Levi sat at his tax booth every person that saw him judged him as the worst of worst sinners. No one thought one single kind, hopeful thought about this man. On the other hand when Jesus saw him, Our Lord told him follow me.” With these two small words from the mouth of Jesus, Levi’s life from that time and forever after was changed. Look at verse 28: “and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.” Why did Levi leave his hard earn tax booth with all the money stored in it, to follow Jesus? Matthew 6:24 Jesus teaches: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Up to that point Levi devoted his life to the master called money and making as much of it as possible. Devoting his abilities to make money allowed him self to become financially secure. On the other-hand it turned him into a lonely man because all his friendships were based on quid pro quo.
When Levi heard the master Jesus call him he new he had to make a choice. Either serve money or Jesus. He couldn’t do both. Jesus unconditional love moved his heart. As a ambitious man he new only following Jesus could he be change into a respected and relevant man, both for his people and in his place in history. Levi step out of his tax collector booth. Staring at Jesus with great eagerness and gratitude, he never again look back at his tax collector’s booth.
Look at verse 29: “Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.” I was told by those in this bible center who set up banquets to be held here at this bible center, a typical banquet for food alone cost between $500 to $1000 dollars in our economy. Levi open his house to as many people as possible, even though the only people who would come were a large crowd of tax collectors and sinners like himself along with Jesus and his disciples. At the entrance to his home he may have hung a huge Banner: “Which may have read: “Welcome Jesus! AND ANY AND EVERYONE ELSE.” Each person who came to the banquet Levi welcomed with open arms and a squeezing hug. When the banquet began he may have made a short speech. “Every one judge me as the worst sinner. They are right. I am the worst sinner. But Jesus loved me and did not judge me. By his grace he saved me and called me to follow him and be is disciple. Please now have a wonderful time. Eat and drink and especially make time to talk with Jesus.”
Every time something wonderful is happening to Jesus you can count on the religious people of the day will soon be showing up to crash the party. Look at verse 30: “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?” Notice the question was addressed to Jesus disciples who themselves had just been called by Jesus to be his disciples. Jesus in a great show of leadership courage steps between his disciples and these hostile religious people.Our Lord Jesus is no coward. He is always ready to lay his life down for his sheep. He speaks up for his disciples and fully justifies their actions. “Jesus answered them in verses 31,32: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the rightious, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus points out it is not the healthy people who need doctors but the sick. Then he uses this as a metaphor for his own kind of Spiritual work by saying: “I have not come to call the rightious, but sinners to repentance. Even in Jesus day our Lord reveals their were doctors gifted by God to heal the sick. I am one person personally indebted to doctors gifted in helping the sick. In the last three to four years visiting doctors has become a regular routine of my existence on this earth. I can assure you healthy people have not interest in visiting doctors. My right knee was ailing me to the point where even walking half a mile was crippling painful. I went to a doctor. By God’s grace he replace it with a new knee. Now I can walk on it without pain. A year later I find a sore on the back of my ear that would not heal. I go to the doctors again. I am told it is melanoma can and that the location of the melanoma makes it a super big deal. They operated twice. During the first operation it metastases and spreads to my lung. A year later I had a operation to take melanoma out of my right lung. Since last February I have been going to the hospital every three weeks for immune therapy which is a treatment used to help the immune system combat melanoma. Definitely I don’t feel like I did when I was in my 40’s or younger. Gratefully I can say by going to the doctors I am able to walk better, I don’t have melanoma raging throughout my body and I can breath better. To this I am thankful to God for doctors and the medical community in general and everyone in this church for your prayers. Last week I had a personal conversation with a man I have been working with for the last two months. He shared with me his brother had pain in his stomach in his 40’s. His wife kept encouraging him to go see a doctor. He was stubborn and wouldn’t take her advice. Eventually his agony forced him to the hospital. He was told it was cancer. Additionally he was told, because he waited too long to see a doctor they couldn’t do anything for it. He died a short time later. Our Lord Jesus revealed: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the rightious, but sinners to repentance.” Just as we need the healing gift of a doctors to heal of our mental or physical sicknesses, we also need Jesus Christ to call us sinners to repentance.
Someone may ask: “Why do I need Jesus to call me to repent of my sins? Later in Luke 13 Jesus explains: In this chapter people were asking Jesus opinion about groups of people who were violently killed. Twice Jesus told these listeners: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” A theme in the Bible that stretches from the flood of Noah’s time in Genesis 6 to the end of Revelation is that all sinners will perish if we do not repent. Another theme is that sinners neither want to repent or can repent under our own power. Sin is like my bad knee or cancer. I didn’t want a bad knee and certainly I didn’t want cancer. I tried everything in my power to heal myself, I couldn’t. Jesus Christ is God’s gift from heaven to help us sinners recognize our urgent need to repent and to empower us to repent. I remember the first time Jesus Christ words empowered me to repent. I was a single man in my 20’s. If people or events happened in my life that discouraged me I would resign myself to stop all positive behaviors, works and acts. I would just mope around and do nothing constructive.. Then by God’s help, I studied Jesus words in the beginning of John 9: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus words open my eyes to the sobering truth night is coming on me when I can no longer do any positive, noble and constructive work for God on this earth. Once I realize this truth, I was empowered to repent of my thin skin, easily offended nature. Jesus words empowered me to repent and do something, do anything positive rather than just do nothing. At least for me the key to receiving Jesus gift of calling me to repentance is regular bible study. Every day I live in a very sinful, lazy body that wants to sin. If it was up to my sinful body I would sleep all day and sin all night. This is why every day the Holy Spirit compels me to study the bible. Through this bible study I can hear the anointed calling of Jesus Christ, calling me to repent of my sins.
Questions about praying and fasting
True to their self rightious religious nature the Pharisees and teachers of the law had another complaint to lodge against Jesus and his disciples. Look at verse 33: “They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”
How did Jesus reply to this complain: First Jesus infers he is the bridegroom from heaven to save his church. Look at verse 34: “Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? This second complaint is what made Jesus reveal he is much more than just another powerful man of God in Israels rich history of prophets. In fact he is the Bridegroom sent from heaven. Later the bible will reveal Jesus is the Bridegroom from heaven who loves his church and gave up his life to make her holy. “Ephesians 5:25-27 “ Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Jesus Christ sacrificial, faithful, forgiving love for his church is a example for all bridegrooms and husbands how we should love our wives. Can you imagine Jesus Christ ever divorcing his church? It is unimaginable. He would die a thousand deaths for his Church. Nothing now or forever can separate Christ church from the love of Christ.
Jesus disciples were face to face, hand to hand with Christ. Jesus the Bridegroom called them unconditionally by his divine unconditional love. Despite their weaknesses he will lay down his life for them. More over Jesus disciples were friends to the bridegroom from heaven. Friends of the bridegroom never think about fasting or asking a favor to talk with bridegroom. Huge banquets of food are always surrounding them before and after the wedding. For a friend of the bridegroom not to laugh, eat, drink and be happy at his wedding would be a insult in the highest order.
Look at verse 35: “But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” Jesus Christ went to heaven first, to prepare a place for his bride. Durning this separation the followers of Jesus will need to pray to communicate with Jesus. Pray by faith to thank him. Pray in time of trouble to ask for his divine and faithful help in all our troubles. Pray To ask for forgiveness of our sins and pray he may help us to forgive others who sin against us. Pray to Jesus to save the lives and souls of other peoples and lands. Let me encourage you to listen on YouTube to the christian testimony of gifted R&B singer Helen Baylor. Both with words and song she shares how her grandmother never stop praying for her. Because of her grandmother’s prayers Jesus completely delivered her from the worst sinful and life destroying addictions.
Lastly Jesus gave a parable to show he is the new spiritual wine from God to make human beings rightious with God. Let “And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wine skins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wine skins.”37-38
Since using wineskins to store wine is something I had never seen done in this country, I found it very interesting as I read about it. Many wine skins that are used are made from the entire body of a animal. These wine skins have four limbs, a neck and torso. In a little way it looks like a human body. After grapes are crushed, either the grape juice or both grape juice and pulp is placed into the wine skin. Grapes them selves have yeast naturally found in their make up. Yeast is a vital ingredient to start the fermentation of wine making. Sometimes to get more reaction additional yeast is added into the wine skin. When the wine skin is filled and hung up in the hot sun then a chemical reaction is triggered between the juice, yeast and heat from the sun. The sun and yeast begins to turn the grape juice from a sugar fruit juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This expansion of gas and liquids under the heat of the sun naturally forces the wine skin to expand. If it is a new wine skin, it is able to expand and stretch right along with the increasing quantity of gas and liquid being produced by the fermentation process. On the other hand if new wine is pour into old wine skins you are asking for a major mess. I use to trap and skin animals. I can tell you old dry animal skin is as brittle as china. If new wine is poured into a old skin disaster is sure to follow. It will eventually burst like a ballon, ruining both the new wine and the old wine skin. Using this parable Jesus vividly shows why he doesn’t teach his disciples to pray and fast to be rightious. If he did he would in effect be turning them into old wineskins that were being filled up with new wine. Jesus gave only himself to his disciples to be rightious and justified. He gave them his word, his miracles, his servant ship, his example, his crucification, resurrection and the Holy Spirit. All these given by grace through faith in him. By doing this he made them into new wine skins which can expand with the new wine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The great error CChristianshave made down the ages is to try to conform people into both old wineskins and new skins by teaching them to be rightious both by laws, traditions and faith in Christ. Such teaching make people either into mental patients or turn them into christian pharisees and teachers of the law. Martin Luther of the 15th century, was one such man. He lived in a time you not only had to believe in Jesus to be rightious, you also had to quit your job and become either a full time monk or nun. Plus you had to pay money to the pope to buy your soul into heaven. Additionally you couldn’t marry and you had to rip your self with thorn branches daily to repent of evil thoughts. The list of do’s and don’t became endless. Martin Luther said he did it all. By doing all these endless works and traditions, he wrote the only thing that happen to him was that he learn to hate God. Then he was given a job to teach bible. Through preparing bible study he deeply studied Jesus Christ crucifixion on the cross. He also deeply studied Apostle Paul’s letters where Paul wrote in Roman1:17 “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed-a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Martin Luther applied this teaching of righteousness by faith by putting his faith in Jesus Christ of the Gospels who died on the cross for the sins of the world. When he did this, a spiritual reaction happen with in his inner man just like a reaction happens when you put grape juice, yeast and the heat of the sun into a wine skin.
He said for the first time he experience peace with God. He testified he could see God’s gates to paradise open up and welcome him into the Kingdom of God. Martin Luther never looked back once he discovered righteousness by faith in the Gospel. He became the great warrior the Holy Spirit used to cause the Reformation of the church. He and those who followed his teaching suffered endless persecution and even martyrdom to hold onto their righteousness by faith.
By God’s help, each of us must learn to be righteous and justified with God only through the new wine of faith in Christ alone. To be justified by faith in Christ means to listen to a life long calling from Jesus to repent of our sins. In this way the bridegroom of heaven, is preparing us to be part of his church which he will present to him self without wrinkly or blemish. This is our hope of glory. All praise and glory thanks to Jesus Christ for calling a sinner like myself to daily repentance.