Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 4
Thesis: Following Jesus creates multiple dilemmas that must be resolved by loyalty to Him above all.
Introduction: In our unrecorded study last week we looked at the nature of Levi's reaction to Jesus' call. We saw that there are numerous problems with "following Jesus" if we do not understand what it means and what it does not mean. I fear that, as is always the case the longer the Gospel is involved in a given culture, the Gospel has been "reinterpreted" over the years so that it no longer means what it did when Jesus proclaimed it. It is that "reinterpretation" that we must honestly face if we are going to be disciples of Jesus.
This morning we are going to look at the significance of Levi's action in hosting a large reception for Jesus in his home. Why did Luke tell us of this large event? And, why did he refrain from telling us of the impact that this event had upon Levi's circle of influence? These are some of the questions that we will consider this morning in our Bible study. The issue of becoming one of Jesus' "followers" is an issue that brings many dilemmas into play that must be resolved.
July 8, 2007
- I. The Significance of Levi's "Discipleship Action".
- A. Luke made sure we did not lose our focus upon the man by restating his name.
- 1. We cannot remain clear on the issues if we do not remain focused upon the contrasts.
- a. Dilemmas, by their very nature, are very confusing if we have no solid standard(s) by which we make our decisions.
- b. Levi was an example of one extreme to which the theology of Israel drives men; the scribes and the Pharisees were an example of the opposite extreme of the same theology.
- 1) Both were "Levites", but they could not have been more different.
- 2) Levi, under the gun of performance theology, turned to the rage of rejection and despair as failure after failure mounted up in his soul and spirit.
- 3) The Pharisees, under the same gun, turned to the arrogance of blindness in self-righteousness as failure after failure was swept under the rug and dismissed.
- c. These contrasting personalities, under the same theological banner, give us as clear a picture of where performance theology takes people as we can find anywhere.
- 2. Luke presented Jesus as diametrically opposed to performance theology and its results.
- a. His message was "repentance".
- b. His call was always "Follow Me".
- B. Luke told us what the impact of "repentance" was in Levi's case.
- 1. Levi "made" a huge "reception" for Jesus.
- a. The issue of "reception" is important because Luke alone used the word so translated, and he only used it twice.
- 1) The point of the choice of words is one: Levi was telling everyone who attended his "reception" that Jesus had become his enduring focus of loyalty.
- 2) Levi's subsequent life demonstrated this reality: he never again lived as he had.
- b. The size of the reception is important because Luke uses two different words to create the impression he wants to give us.
- 1) He tells us that it was a "great" reception and used a word that typically signals the relative ability to make an impact.
- 2) Then he tells us that there was a "large" crowd and used a word that typically signals the presence of a significant number of distinguishable parts.
- 3) This mixture of concepts inescapably indicates that Luke wanted his reader(s) to get this point: Levi was using all of his "power" to expose as "many" of his acquaintances to Jesus as possible.
- c. The net result of Levi's actions, in respect to his associates, was two-fold.
- 1) He made it possible for as many as he could get together to meet Jesus to have the same opportunity that he had been given to experience the acceptance of Jesus.
- 2) He also, however, was drawing a line in the sand: he intended to be loyal to Jesus so that those who refused to be loyal to Him would no longer be able to count on Levi to further their agendas in life.
- 2. Levi had this reception in his house.
- a. Levi's "house" was one of the more visible results of his life as a tax collector; as such it represented what he was leaving behind.
- 1) This "house" represented Levi's lifestyle as a self-indulgent rebel against God.
- 2) This final use of his "house" as the place of his declaration of loyalty to Jesus was, in effect, his own way of saying, "I am finished with self-indulgence."
- b. Levi's "house" ceased to be his house.
- 1) He lived there no longer.
- 2) It is highly likely that he divested himself of it (given the record of Acts and the subsequent needs of the Church).
- C. Luke's point is one which we must take to heart: Jesus does not exist to make self-indulgence legitimate.
- II. The Significance of Luke's Record.
- A. He says nothing about whether Jesus gained any further disciples from Levi's actions or not.
- B. His entire focus upon the one extreme of legal theology shifted to a focus upon the impact of Jesus on the other extreme.
- 1. Levi was trapped in his web of despair and rage, but Jesus delivered him.
- 2. The Pharisees and their scribes were just as trapped in their web of self-righteous arrogance, but Jesus did not deliver them.
- C. He clearly establishes the standards so that the confusion of dilemmas is minimized.
- 1. Clearly despair and rage have no place in His life.
- 2. Just as clearly self-righteousness and arrogance have no place in His life.
- 3. And, just as clearly, there is no place in the Gospel for "believers" who refuse to address the issues of their "self-indulgence".