Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 5 Study Notes
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 4 July 8, 2007 Lincolnton, NC
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:
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. Levi's Feast.
A. Luke chooses to describe Levi's "feast" as a "reception". He uses a word that is not found but twice in the New Testament (and one he alone uses; 5:29 and 14:13) and carries the idea of a meal designed to highlight that the guest of honor is deeply valued by the one hosting the event. This usage significantly raises the importance of Jesus' use of the word in the other context (14:13) because in that place the "highly valued guests" are those who have nothing and are totally unable to reciprocate the honor. The significant point in the description of Levi's reception is that he is doing for Jesus what Jesus had done for him and what none other had ever done -- he is exalting Jesus as "beloved".
B. That Luke describes it as "great" elevates the action Levi has taken. In a sense, this is Levi's "goodbye" to his former life and associations (he is kissing self-indulgence goodbye) as well as his explanation for the radical change of course he has embraced. There are two issues deeply involved: the first is Levi's desire to introduce Jesus to those with whom he has rubbed shoulders all of his life as a tax collector; and the other is Levi's declaration that his former life is over. He is embracing Jesus and cutting himself loose from all who will not do the same.
C. That this was done "in Levi's house" tells us of the degree of self-indulgence to which Levi had gone because of his alienation from God. His house had to have been exceedingly large to suit a "great reception". Levi was not going to be living in this house any longer because he was "following Jesus". It is unlikely that he retained ownership of it given Luke's record of Barnabas in Acts 4 (what are the chances that the apostles would accept Barnabas' generosity without embracing it themselves?).
II. Levi's Guests.
A. There was a "large" crowd. Luke switches from "a great reception" to "a large crowd". This enhances the "greatness" of the reception, but it also emphasizes the number of people to whom Levi has extended his invitation.
B. The makeup of the crowd is described in two ways.
1. There are those in the crowd who are tax collectors.
2. There are those in the crowd who are "others". The most likely source of the "others" is the pool of people who were involved with the tax collectors in their line of work. It is impossible that tax collectors did all of the work necessary to the task. There is too much involved.
III. The Nature of the Life of Jesus.
A. It cannot be experienced except by participationwith Jesus.
1. This means sharing His values.
2. This means sharing His beliefs.
B. It cannot be experienced fully or immediately; it takes time to draw away from those values and beliefs that are merely self-indulgent.
1. There must be an initial determination to withdraw, though it is ineffective as a once- for-all decision (this is the kind of decision that must be made day by day).
2. Then there must be a follow-through that faces the issues with resolve.