Saturday, September 17, 2022

Where's the Miracle? - Luke 5:27-32 - September 18, 2022

 Luke 5:27-32 Where’s the Miracle?

Good morning! We are returning to our study in the Gospel of Luke this morning, so turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 5:27-32, page 861 in the pew Bibles.

Let’s read that together and then we’ll pray and dive into our study.

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Let’s pray.

Over the last few weeks we have been looking at Luke chapter five and we have seen several miracles, or miraculous signs outlined in each study. We looked at the miraculous catch of fish after Peter and friends had fished all night and caught nothing, we looked at Jesus’ miraculous cleansing of a man full of leprosy, and last week we looked at Jesus healing a man who was paralyzed who was lowered through the roof by his four friends to see Jesus. (You have to wonder if it wasn’t a stunt like that that got the man paralyzed in the first place!)

Today we are going to look at a fifth miracle in Luke chapter five. Did you see it when we read the passage?

First, let’s define our terms. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines the word miracle this way:

“A miracle is an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God, operating without the use of means capable of being discerned by the senses, and designed to authenticate the divine commission of a religious teacher and the truth of his message. It is an occurrence at once above nature and above man. It shows the intervention of a power that is not limited by the laws either of matter or of mind, a power interrupting the fixed laws which govern their movements, a supernatural power.” 

This definition clearly covers the catch of fish, the cleansing of the leper, and the healing of the paralytic. And where is the miracle in our passage this morning? It’s the calling of Levi.

Levi was a tax collector, some translations say, “publican.” In Jewish culture at that time the term “publican,” and “sinner” were synonymous.

Levi was a Jewish man employed by the Romans, the oppressive, invading rulers of the Jewish nation. To be a tax collector in Israel on behalf of the Romans meant that you were a traitor to your country and a traitor to your race. Not only that, being a tax collector was not even an honest way to make a living.

Rome only cared that they got their share, their percentage of wine, or wheat, or olives, or oil, or fish, of head tax, or road tolls. Anything that the tax collectors charged people beyond that percentage was theirs to keep.

We have no record that Levi was dishonest in his work as a tax collector but it is clear from the text that he had a large house that could house a large party with a large company of tax collectors.

Let’s be honest, the Pharisees and their scribes had every right to hate Levi. The disciples that Jesus had already called had every right to hate Levi. Jesus Himself had the right to hate Levi.

But he didn’t. That’s the miracle. The miracle was grace.

Jesus called this man who was an example of being a traitor and made him an example of grace.

Jesus call to this man to follow Him wasn’t based on his merits for sure, He didn’t add him to His band of followers because he had the right skill set or pedigree. He was good with money I’m sure, but it was Judas that was put in charge of the money bag not Levi.

And just like Jesus had done for Simon, who He had renamed, “Peter,” Jesus gave Levi a new name. He called him, “Matthew.” Matthew means, “gift of God.” What is another word for gift? Grace.

Matthew would go on to become a witness, a preacher, a Gospel writer, a martyr, and a proof and example of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

We should learn from his example because we are no different and our calling is no less miraculous.

Ephesians chapter two says, 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The grace extended to Levi is the same grace that has been extended to us.

And we should respond and continue to respond the way Levi did, to celebrate!

When Jesus called Levi to follow Him, to leave behind his life of treachery and sin, he threw a party and invited all of the people who were willing to associate with him, other tax collectors!

When was the last time you celebrated your salvation, celebrated God’s grace in Christ poured out on you? This should be our constant theme!

Not everybody in our passage today was celebrating.

30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 

John Calvin wrote, “Hypocrites, being satisfied and intoxicated with a foolish confidence in their own righteousness, do not consider the purpose for which Christ was sent into the world, and do not acknowledge the depth of evils in which the human race is plunged, or the dreadful wrath and curse of God which lies on all, or the accumulated load of vices which weighs them down. The consequence is, that they are too stupid to feel the miseries of men, or to think of a remedy. While they flatter themselves, they cannot endure to be placed in their own rank, and think that injustice is done them, when they are classed with transgressors.” 

The Pharisees believed in, what RC Sproul called, “a salvation by segregation.” It was the thought that as long as they kept separate from the kind of people that they considered sinners, like these tax collectors, that they were somehow righteous and unstained. 

The suggested to the other disciples, “You guys used to be respectable, lowly fisherman, but at least respectable, and now you’re hanging out with these dirtbags!?”

Of course they could not be more wrong, right?

When was the last time a religious person accused you of the perception of evil because you spent so much time with unbelievers in Jesus’ Name?

What can we do to upend the public perception of the church that seems to be the complete opposite of this party that Levi threw? Do you even see the need of that?

When the Pharisees questioned the disciples about this questionable company that they were keeping Jesus fired back with a very familiar quote. It’s one that we’ve all heard but I’m not sure we’ve all completely understood.

31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus is the Great Physician, we’ve seen it in our study of Luke 5, and maybe you’ve experienced it in your own life. He healed the leper, He healed the paralytic, He healed the soul of Levi, by faith in Jesus He has healed the souls of countless others from our disease of sin.

He is the doctor that this world needs, people are sick with sin and He is the only One with the cure because He Himself IS the cure.

We often understand this quip from Jesus as only referring to Himself, but I think there’s more to it than that. I think that Jesus is condemning the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were the teachers of Israel, they were the ones who were supposed to shepherd God’s chosen people and teach them to obey His Law. They had the cure for the disease of sin written in the scrolls of the Law and the Prophets, they had the teaching of the Messiah, they were physicians but they refused to see any patients.

In their zeal to keep themselves from being exposed to disease they ignored those who needed the cure.

Jesus basically said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… You guys keep avoiding those who are sick and only spend time with those who are well. In short, you are useless, and your cures aren’t helping anybody. Follow my example and help the sick.”

The church can learn from this. We need to follow Jesus’ example and call sinners to repentance because, like Levi, now Matthew, that what we once were, and that took a miracle.

Paul wrote in Titus 2:11-12,

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.