Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 3
July 1, 2007
28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.
30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
1901 ASV Translation:
28 And he forsook all, and rose up and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house: and there was a great multitude of publicans and of others that were sitting at meat with them.
30 And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with the publicans and sinners?
31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are in health have no need of a physician; but they that are sick.
32 I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
- I. The Issues Involved in "Following".
- A. Clearly, Jesus did not call everyone to "follow" in the same sense that He called the inner circle.
- B. But it seems to also be true that there are a variety of senses to the concept of "following".
- 1. In Matthew 8:19-22 Jesus indicated that the issue of "following" entailed hard choices.
- 2. In Matthew 10:37-38 He put "following" at the top of the priority list.
- 3. In John 8:12 the promised "Light of Life" is extended to those who "follow". In 10:4 and 27 the shepherd's sheep "follow" him. In 12:26 the Father honors those who "follow" Jesus.
- C. The physical sense sets the tone for all other "senses".
- II. Levi's Actions.
- A. He duplicated the original sense in Luke's record.
- 1. In 5:11 we have Luke's first reference to "following" Jesus and it contains the concept of abandoning an entire career and lifestyle.
- 2. In Levi's case the same sense is present: he cannot "follow" and remain a tax collector.
- B. His case seems to be a "case study" by Luke wherein he makes a "case" for the fact that Jesus represents an entirely different way of Life and no one gets to participate in it who does not "follow" Him into it.
- 1. This makes "following" entirely necessary to the Life. The use of the "Gospel" to attempt to get people to "be saved" from the wrath of God without making clear the fact that the promise is about a "Life" that is entirely unique from those forms of "life" that are available in this fallen world is a false use of the Gospel.
- 2. It is absolutely true that "salvation is by grace ... not of works", but those are words that have a "context". Any "context" that divorces "salvation" from "deliverance from Sin and sins" is a false context. Any "context" that divorces "salvation by grace" from God's relational universe in which redemption is all about reconciliation is a false context. Any "context" which denies that sin corrupts relationships is a false context. Any context that twists "grace" from being "active divine provision" into "a kind of benign acceptance" is a false context.
- 3. It is absolutely true that once a person has been born of God, he is free of the wrath of God regardless of how well or how poorly he "follows", but it is not true that a person can have the attitude going in that he does not have to "follow" Jesus in order to enter in. How can one pretend to be "reconciled" to God when he is not interested in being reconciled to God? And how can one be interested in being reconciled who is still intending rebellion? There is a great deal of difference between being aware of one's gross weaknesses with the realization that the "following" is liable to be grossly imperfect and being intentional about withholding any intention of following.
- III. Our Understanding.
- A. It is altogether an error to "believe" in any sense that "Life" can arise from "rebellion".
- B. It is altogether necessary to "believe" that Jesus' summons for us to "follow" means that we divorce ourselves from every former attachment. This does not mean a physical abandonment; it means an abandonment of understanding. There is no "Life" that arises where there is no "Life". God is the only and absolute Author of Life and nothing gives Life but Him.