Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1
Thesis: Jesus makes disciples out of those who follow Him.
Introduction: Every statement of "Truth" has at least two sides to it. There is a "hopeful" side, and there is a "hopeless" side. Because "Truth" is fixated upon "Life", "Life" is going to happen...for somebody. This is the "hopeful" side of "Truth". But, for the same reason, "Death" is going to happen also. This is the "hopeless" side of Truth". The reason for this reality is this: Truth is true, and lies are not. Every time the Truth is believed, "Life" happens; and every time it is rejected, "Death" happens.
The paragraph before us this morning sets the stage for our understanding that "Truth" is not optional. Only "Life" and "Death" are "optional". In this paragraph, Jesus "departs from" those who challenged His identity as the "Forgiver of Sins" and engages a tax collector to be one of His disciples. Those from whom He departed He later called "blind guides of the blind" who would "fall into the ditch" (Luke 6:39). They were dead men waiting to enter into the final stage of Death. That one, however, to whom He called came suddenly into "Life" and began a journey that was to eventually lead him to a throne where he will rule over one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel in the Final Kingdom of the Christ (Matthew 19:28).
This morning we are going to take a look at Jesus' summons of Levi.
June 3, 2007
- I. The Major Difference Between The Dead Who Will Finally Die and the Dead Who Come to Life.
- A. Does not exist in a significant difference of "behavior".
- 1. At a superficial level, there was a tremendous difference in "behavior".
- a. The scribes, Pharisees, and teachers of the Law lived, to a very great degree, according to the Law of God.
- 1) Philippians 3:6 tells us that one of these "types" was "blameless" in the face of the "righteousness of the Law".
- 2) Their zeal for their lifestyle was so great that where there were no rules to govern the choices they had to make, they made up some.
- b. The "tax farmers", on the other hand, flaunted their disdain for the Law of God and gloried in the wealth that being the prostitutes of Rome brought them.
- 1) These people delighted in breaking the "rules" and partying all the time and scoffing at those who were their opposites.
- 2) The very first thing Levi did as a disciple of Jesus was to throw a big party for his fellow tax collectors...something he knew, from experience, they would attend.
- c. So, at a superficial level, there was a notable difference in "lifestyles".
- 2. But, at the roots, where all behavior has its genesis, there was not a particle of difference between the two groups.
- a. The tax-collectors had no use for "God" and all His rules.
- b. The religious set had no use for "God" either.
- c. Both groups were "vipers" in serious need of forgiveness and regeneration.
- B. Does not exist in a significant difference in basic "theology".
- 1. Eight days after this particular tax-collector was born, his parents and their families and friends came together to circumcise him and give him a name.
- a. They named him "Levi".
- b. They had "aspirations" for him.
- c. They "circumcised" him into those "aspirations".
- d. But the problem was that they did not know that it was going to be their own "Levi" theology that would drive their "baby" into the apostate and degenerate lifestyle of a tax-collector.
- e. Levi was the namesake of an "original" who came by his name out of a hopeless theology of acceptance by performance and of a long tradition of a priesthood that was locked into the hopelessness of that theology.
- f. Levi was a rebel who had given up, not the theology, but the "hope": he was the epitome of a man enraged with a "god" Who demanded more than he could give.
- 2. On the other hand, the scribes, Pharisees, and Teachers of the Law had embraced the very same theology and the very same attitude toward God, but with one major difference: they got what they wanted out of life by refusing to admit they hated God and putting on a great show of religiosity.
- C. Does exist in a significant difference in one thing: their response to Jesus.
- 1. When the "religious" heard Jesus claim that He could and would forgive those who were ready to "repent" and "believe" Him, they accused Him of blasphemy and pursued the already developing antagonism they had toward Him.
- a. This was caused by the threat He posed to their basic goal in life: status by means of achievement.
- b. This basic goal was simply one of three that have the ability to totally destroy those who embrace them.
- 2. When Levi heard Jesus say, "Follow Me", he understood three things very clearly.
- a. First, he understood that he wanted more than all his rebellion and acquisitions had gotten him.
- b. Second, he understood that his "theology" was fundamentally wrong: Jesus was calling him in spite of his identity as a Jewish apostate reject (acceptance is apparently not on the basis of performance).
- c. Third, he understood that Jesus meant it when He said He would forgive and regenerate anyone who would let Him.
- II. The Point.
- A. In 5:1-11 Jesus summoned Peter, James, and John and they "left all and followed Him".
- B. In this paragraph, just two paragraphs later, Jesus summoned Levi and he "forsook all and followed Him."
- C. Today, Jesus is still calling and you are sitting under the sound of His call: are you going to retain your hold on your obsessions and antagonism, or are you going to turn loose and follow?