Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 629 · 2 months ago

The Gospel of Luke #21

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Luke 5:27-32

Jesus Christ, we come to you because we come to your word. It is your word, Lord, it is your word. You have given it to us, God, and we account every word in it, Lord, has coming from you. And Lord, therefore, when we read it, it speaks deep into our heart because Lord, reveals the hidden recesses that we have. And Lord, today, as we look at a brother whom you called out of great darkness. And yet, Lord, in the instant that you called him in two words, he arose by your effectual calling and followed you and then began to live and to share his testimony through a Gospel that he would give about you. Lord, we pray as we look at this word challenge us. Let us see ourselves as we all so, we're great sinners, and let us see that we may follow the example of this brother if we ask your blessing now upon this word illuminated to us, if we prayed in Christ's name. Amen. Man, turn, if you will, to Luke Chapter Five. So we make our way through the gospel of Luke, a short text this morning, but I think, a very important text. Of course, all of God's Word is important. Luke Chapter Five, beginning with verse twenty seven, reading to verse thirty two. This is again God's word. After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax booth and he said to him follow me, and leaving everything, he rose and followed him, and Levin made a great or made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others need at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? and Jesus answered them those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. That sense the reading of God's word. Please be seated. So we come to a short passage this morning that relates to us the calling of one of the disciples of our Lord. We are not given in detail the calling of all the apostles in the Bible. We are given some, particularly the fishermen. We are given their calling and but outside of that we have this calling here of of Levi. And so, since the Lord doesn't see fit to record all of their callings, uh. It seems as if there is a special reason that God puts this...

...calling uh not only in the scriptures, but actually in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, including the Gospel that was written by the man who is in this text. And so there is something here that his extraordinary, and part of it, we'll know, is because here God, our God and Christ, calls one of the most hated men of all time, at least of that time and perhaps in our time, a tax collector. And so we'll begin by looking at versus. So we are introduced to a certain tax collector by the name of Levi. Of course, we know him better as Matthew. In Matthew's account of his own calling, he gives that he gives his name in that account has matthew, but luke and mark give it as Levi Uh. In the listing of all the apostles that are found in Matthew, mark and Luke U and acts every time I'm he is referred to there as Matthew. Mark even further identifies him as the son of Alpheus, but that doesn't really help us much. There is another disciple who was the son of Alpheus, by the name of James but it does not appear that this is the same alpheus. Now, why does Matthew have two names? While there could be a couple of reasons, we don't know for sure, but one is that some people had named to names from the beginning. It appears this would be the case with Thomas, who was also called Didimus, which means the twin, which indicates it probably he had that second name from the very beginning. But it also could be because in his call, Jesus changed his name, as he did to uh Simon, whom he called Cephas or Peter Uh and, and gave him that name, and so it could be also that matthew had that happened. The name Matthew Means Gift of God, so that could very well lead to the fact that maybe our Lord Jesus said this would be the name that he would now be known by. In all three of the gospels, his calling is recorded immediately after the healing of the Paralytic, and I've told you that Luke is not that interested in chronology and tells the events as he's fit. But the fact that it finds itself in all three Gospels in this location leads us to believe that probably this was exactly when mark or matthew or Levi's calling happened. Now, his occupation, as I mentioned, was a tax collector and, as I mentioned, I'm sure you know, in those days particularly, the tax collector was one of the most hated men in all of the land, and there was a lot of reasons that people weren't very fond of them. Also known as Publicans. Uh. There are times in the gospels in one breath linked together with sinners. So...

...we find it several times, even here in verse nine, the phrase Publicans and sinners. So they are expressly called out in that thing that we find nine times in the gospels. Now there are three main reasons that the tax collectors were hated. Number one, in going into that occupation and collecting taxes for the Romans, who were invaders and oppressors, the tax collectors were considered by the people as traders to Israel. They never believed it was lawful for Rome to rule over them, and so therefore the tax collector working for the Roman government. No, he was hated. The second reason was not only did they collect the taxes that Rome wanted, but they were able to add other things of their own that they could add to the taxes. This is how they made their living. So were also considered as thieves. And the third was because of their jobs, they were often in contact with other gentiles or gentiles and therefore they were also considered unclean. So what were tax collectors? They were traitorous, unclean thieves. Not a good combination. And the people who wanted to be tax collectors in those days, they didn't just go in and fill out a job application and listing their previous experience and references and all that. No, this job was a job that the Romans put up forbid in each area, that people could actually bid on and the job would go to the highest bidder. So of course this job was highly coveted among the covetous, because it could be a job where you could make a lot of money, and so that was very well. I wanted that particular job. And then that was another reason, by the way, to hate collect tax collectors, because most of them were rich because of that. I might have mentioned this before, but the most money I ever made in my life was not in the ministry, but it was when I was a door to door microwave oven salesman. Uh, yes, and this was back in the seventies when microwaves were brand new and and all of my friends were making two dollars an hour, which was a minimum wage, and I was making two hundred dollars a week for three to four hours of work because I would just schedule three appointments or four appointments. I knew I gets out two or three microwaves, that I would make a couple hundred dollars and do that, which was very, very good wages. So Commission work can be very lucrative and it would be that way with these tax collectors. So we find our Lord Passing Levi and as he does, he's in his tax booths. So just like we saw the fishermen were mending their nets or maybe fishing at the time that the Lord came by and called them uh, here we also find a man in the middle of his occupation and it says in our verse Jesus saw...

...a tax collector. Now we have to stop for a moment. You say, well, I mean what's in that? Of course he saw a big deal. The word saw here is not a simple word that is often used for seen. Um, it's not like I might say I saw a bobcat today. It's not that kind of a word. Strong. says. The word means to look closely at, that is, by implication, to perceive literally or figuratively. They are says. It means to behold, look upon, view, attentatively, contemplate. It's the same word that John Uses in John One fourteen when it says the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld. That's the same word. We beheld his Glory as of the only begotten Son of God. And so Jesus sees deeply into Matthew, and I want to come back to that. In the application, James Edwards says it indicates in this word that Jesus was not just looking at but even looking into Levi. And that makes sense because if you're just looking at the outward you'd see a tax collector that everybody'd hate. But Jesus looks deeper and he sees something in Matthew that nobody else could have seen. and Jesus gives the command that he gives to other disciples as well and simply says follow me because of what he sees in Matthew. He says that. So in Verse Eight is probably the most amazing statement in the whole account. Leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And again we have to take note of the Greek here, because the English doesn't quite bring it out. And that is when it says he was leaving. In the Greek it's the heiress tense, which indicated to once for all acts that he just got up and left everything. And then it says it followed him. That's not the Herass, that's the imperfect which indicates, of course, that an action is ongoing, it's not perfected. And so he leaves in one act and then he follows Jesus for a lifetime. Now, in one sense, Levi left everything to follow Christ. And you say, well, so it passed her, so did the fisherman. You're right, but there are some differences. For one thing, in fact, we see this in the Bible. The fisherman could always go back to their occupation, they could always go and fish again and in fact, as I said, the disciples did that. But if you left the office of a tax collector, people were ready to jump on that one and bid for that one right away. You were never going back as a tax collector. When you did it. This was a critical decision that has life changing application. So Levi left his livelihood aside and follow Jesus. Now he...

...didn't give away everything that he had because he he has a great feast and that would have cost the money. So he doesn't just give away everything, but he leaves his occupation, his means of livelihood, to follow Jesus. So let in versus twenty nine and thirty. Were told that immediately Levi makes a great feast in his house. William Hendrickson says what is so wonderful about Levi is that surrendering everything made him the happiest man in the world. Now we don't usually throw a feast to celebrate a conversion, but if we look at this story and the story of the Prodigal Son that Jesus tells, perhaps that's not a bad idea. There really is probably nothing so joyful in this life. Has Seen his soul come to Christ right. That is that is means of great I mean the angels are rejoicing in heaven at that time. And if the angels, who aren't even of our race at the a Joe's are rejoicing, how much should we rejoice as well? J C Ryle says, nothing can happen to a man which ought to be such an occasion of joy as this conversion. It's a far more important event than being married. Sorry, ladies, are coming of age or being made of noblemen are receiving a great fortune. It's the birth of an immortal soul. It's the rescue of a center from Hell. It's a passage from life to death. It's being made a king and priest for evermore is being provided for, both in time and eternity. It is adoption into the noblest and richest of all families, the families of God. So it's a time of rejoicing, a great time, and the guest list for the party that leave throws is not a guest list that anybody would really envy in those days or or any time like that. And Uh, it says that the the guest list is combined with more tax collectors and sinners. That's how the Pharisees described the crowd that is there. And a sinner doesn't just mean you know, a reputable sinner, but I think in this context is telling us these are the low lifes of the world that Levi invites to his house, those that the Pharisees would particularly consider great sinners. These are the kind of people that a tax collector whatever his friends, because normal people wouldn't want to associate with the tax collector. So that is why he could invite other tax collectors and sinners. And so the people that criticize this are are described to us as the Pharisees and the scribes that were among them. In other words, there were other scribes, there were scribes in the sadducies and other parties as well, but these are scribes of the Pharisees that are present, and so these are are the respected...

...teachers of the law. And Luke says they grumbled at the disciples, and I like the King James here better because it says the S V says they grumbled, but the King James says murmured. Now I don't like murmured better than grumbled because I think it's a better word per per se as far as how it translates what they did, but I like it because it is an example of the English uh figure of speech we call Automatopia. In other words, these are words that are are like what they uh, what what they sound like, and they describe that so I like Murmur because that's what murmuring is right. Murmur, Murmur Murmurs. That that's what the word sounds like. Well, in Greek the word here is Gone Good Zoe, which is very much like grumbling. Gone Good Zo, gone good Ze, good Zo, doesn't it sounds like, okay, you know, it sounds very mean and it's so a grumbling a kind of word. It's the word that's used. Uh, and there's a two gendef Israel grumbling against Moses. Paul uses it in First Corinthian stand referring to the children of Israel murmuring against Moses. And again, the fact that the Lord and the disciples were eating to the Pharisees indicated more than just associated. It even indicated, or could indicate to them a covenant kind of relationship. And so this, of course, would be terrible. So there was a law in the Talmud that says the disciples of the learned should not recline at table in the company of the common people. So they weren't supposed to do it. But in verse thirty one, Jesus utters a very simple even though we don't know how Jesus knew. They even said that it said. They said it was disciples. So did he hear them over hear it? The disciples come and say it to Jesus? Or did Jesus just known his Omnippancy in His divine nature? We don't know, but somehow he knows uh concerning that. And so he utters his proverb. That might have been a common proverb. But the day it's not the healthy that are in need of a physician but those that are ill. And of course Luke, as physician, would be very interested in that analogy. And so in verse thirty two, Jesus utters what looks like a very simple statement but could be taken different ways. He says I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Now I suppose we could look at that as the Lord saying I have not come to those who already believe they are I should say I have not come to those who feel there is no need uh for for Um righteousness because they think it themselves it's already righteous. Or I have not come to call those who are really, really righteous, but those who are really sinners. And so, in Matthew's fuller account, he actually begins by saying a quotation from Joseah six six, go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice. In William Hendrickson's...

...commentary on on Luke he makes the case that he thinks the translation repentance is too weak there and I looked at the Greek word. It's found twenty four times in the New Testament and twenty four times it's translated repentance. So it seems like a good translation. But I think Hendrickson's point here is that he thinks it also can indicate conversion and that that's perhaps what is going on here. Uh, we're talking about not to repentance but actually to conversion. So repentance is in most of the translations that I looked at Um, but the only one I found with conversion was the literal standard version, where it translates it has conversion. The amplified version translates repentance but adds to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and his righteousness. But anyway, we know of course it. Repentance and conversion are closely tied together. But to be converted and repent one has to believe that one is a sinner. Because if you don't believe your sinner, you're not going to do that. And so of course you have to understand that. And this is what the Pharisees didn't believe. Now we know some would come to that knowledge. The Apostle Paul particularly comes to that knowledge. We know that he said that. You know at the time he thought he was blameless concerning the law and all of those things, but then all of a sudden the law came in and said Io shoall not covet, and all of a sudden he dies. He says so as long as he looked at himself, as he said in Philippians, is touching the law blameless. He's not gonna look at himself as one who needs conversion. But when he says that sin came alive and he died, and then of course he's ready. And then he says to Timothy, I would the chief of sinners. And so here we have someone in Matthew who is aware of his spiritual condition. He's not under any miss apprehensions as the kind of person he as. He knows he's a tax collector, he knows what he is, and so he is ready for God to work in his life. Well, let's make some applications this morning. The story, first of all, Levi is a wonderful example to us of what we believe in the reformed faith concerning the doctrine of salvation. We see the major points of our doctrine all in this short little story. We speak about total depravity, for example. That's true. We really are told much about Levi in the Bible, about pre conversion Levi. But knowing who he was and his occupation, we would certainly say, and from what follows in his account, that he would be a good example of somebody who was not righteous at all and would illustrate to US total depravity. And then from the kind of people he invites to the feast, we can also make a guest. I guess we know that when Peter went before the Lord, he said depart for me, I am a sinful man. But he probably didn't...

...think himself as sinful as a tax collector. But we see this and we also see the doctrine of unconditional election. Who Chooses does? Christ walked by and Levi says, Lord, I want to follow you. No, our Lord Calls Levi. He is the one who chooses him Levi doesn't choose Christ. Christ chooses Levi. As he would say later. He would say, you did not choose me, but I chose you. It was God's election. And we see our doctrine of irresistible grace. We see what happens in Levi's case. He doesn't sit there and go, hmmm, I don't know, Lord, I'm not sure if this is a good move, move from me right now, because you know, I'm a tax collector, I make a lot of money, I've got dependence, I've got things I got to think about. He's not sitting there and says immediately, immediately there's our struggle. There's no done at all. Levi I just gets up and says, all right, I'm following you. And so again we see irresistible grace that draws him into the fold and to believe in the perseverance of the saints. We know, although we're not we only know from tradition, that Matthew was martyred and we don't even know how he was martyred because there's different accounts of that. But we do know that he followed Jesus until the end, because he wrote the Gospel that is named after him. And so we have all of these doctrines found in this one little short account of a conversion. We also see and leave the Lord likes us to be people who introduce other people to Jesus. The Pharisees thought it was wrong to associate with sinful people around them. People said that the Pharisees believed in the doctrine of salvation by segregation. They had forgotten not only Joseah, six six, but also Micah, the very famous scripture. He has showed the old man what is good. And what does the Lord require of Thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to Walk Humbly With Thy God? Phil rikin points out, the Pharisee isn't someone we find outside the church, but inside the church, and here we see the problem of trying to be holier than thou. The Pharisees were like the Leo to see in Church. It said, Oh, we are rich and increased with goods and want nothing, and Jesus said no, you're poor, wretched, miserable, blind, naked. I want you to notice in the account not only what Jesus said but what he doesn't say. He doesn't deny the charge leveled against him. What is the charge? You eat with tax collectors and sinners? He doesn't say, Oh, wait,...

...everything, man, no, no, no, I don't associate. No, he accepts the charge has been completely true. What the Pharisees should have done at that point to say, well then, let us come to the table, because we're sinners too. But of course they didn't do that, did they? Kelvin said, we are reminded that the grace of crisis of no advantage to us unless, when conscious of our sins and groaning under their load, we approached to him with humility. Let's go back to Levi for a moment, because I think there's an important lesson. As I said, he's someone introduced people to Jesus. The Pharisees thought it was wrong to associate with sinful people, but Levi didn't think that. Now let me ask you a question. What do you know about Matthew Levi? Now I know you don't have to answer. I know what you know about Matthew Levin. You know about his call because it's here. You know he wrote a Gospel because it's in your Bible, and you know he was one of the twelve apostles because he shows up in all four lists. What else? You know nothing. I know nothing. There's no record of Levi Matthew ever saying anything in the Gospels. We don't read of him ever uttering the saying. His recorded words of Christ we have in the Gospel, but we know nothing about him personally outside of what we have here. He's kind of a nobody, but yet in the opinion of Christ he becomes a great somebody. He was humble, he was merciful, he invites all the rejects and in so doing he gives to us an example that is given to us by our Lord Jesus and also by the Apostle Paul. Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners, and we should associate and socialize with tax collectors and sinners. We should do that. Paul Instructs the Corinthians at Verse Corinthians Five. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually a moral people, not at all meaning the sexually a moral of this world are the Gredient, swindlers or idolaturs. Since then you would have to go out of the world and you should associate with those kinds of people. That's who Levi I associated with and in one sense we should even seek out those kind of opportunities for us to be that way. I want to say something here this morning because I don't want you to misunderstand before I say what I'm gonna say. I love the ministry. I Love Particularly Pastoral Ministry. I love being able to preach God's word,...

...which I have been doing now for probably over forty five years of my life. I love it. Since I was in seventh grade I knew that God called me to be a minister and God has been so gracious to allow that to happen in my life. However, and there are times in my um ministerial life that I've also worked a secular job to support myself. But I'll tell you this. The one thing that I really miss about secular work is the opportunities God gives to share the Gospel. I really really missed that living among sinners every day, letting your light shine, and I find oftentimes they wouldn't say anything for a long time, but they would observe. They would just been days and months and years observing and then one day they come and they say, I've been watching you and I want to know what is it that you believe, and so it has been one of my greatest joys in my life to see a CO worker come to Christ and still living for him today. I'm so happy and excited about those things. Now you can say, well, come on, pastor, you you still can converse with sinners, you can still go out into the world. You know, don't don't act like you can't do that. Yeah, you're right, I can, but how great it was to have a whitened harvest before me every day of my life. But again, I'm not saying I want to leave the pastoral ministry, and I know that even covid has kind of destroyed that in many places where I know it's it's a great blessing for people to work at home, there's no question about it. But yet I sometimes agree because it takes away so many good opportunities. You say we don't you believe an election? I do, but I also believe in evangelism as well. But I also have to say this. In talking about being in the company of sinners, there is also an inherent danger that is there and we have to be careful in doing that. I have known believers. In fact we had one man that we had to discipline who went to a party of people that he worked with and ended in sin and he had to come and repent before us. And so we have to be careful. One of my favorite theologians is the famous one dirty Harry, and dirty Harry one said a man's got to know his limitations, and I say to you, know your limitations, know your temptations, know what you have to be careful of in doing this as well. We are to be wisest serpents and harmless as doves. But the problem on the other side of this oftentimes is although we are not associating perhaps with...

...sinners as we ought, yet in the church we don't follow the discipline. In the same chapter, first Continde. Five, that Paul says that we don't go out of the world. He says in the church it shouldn't be that way. He says, I'm writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed or is an idolatry, reviler, drunkard or swindler, not even to eat with such a one. And there Paul is encouraging church discipline so oftentimes the church has stopped associated with sinners without and doesn't deal with sinners within. But I want to close on a positive note. I want to close by again coming back to what I said. The Christ saw something in Matthew that I don't think anybody else ever really saw, and sometimes I think we don't do that. Not that God gives us insight into every person, but I think sometimes we end up with negative opinions and negative thoughts about people. When I was in junior high, uh, I was in the band and I played the most manly of instruments to clarinet, and even in junior high, and I don't know why we did this, but we always had to have marching band, and so we would go out in the parking lot of our junior high and we would practice marching formations and in the process of these marching formations there would come a time when the trombone players would come by the clarinet players. I was on the outside of the clarinet players and there was a guy that was on the inside of the trombone players and every time we passed each other he would make up and slugged me in the arm and he did it every time he passed me and I really didn't like him. To be honest, I was not not fond of him at all. Fast forward three years. I'm on a band trip to Iowa, that state where all your children love to go, and we're on a bus late at night going back to our hotel and there's two girls sitting behind me and I carried my Bible and they knew that and they said, Kim read something out of Your Bible. I don't know if they were teasing, if they were just, you know, trying to say something. I don't I don't know what their reason or if they were sincere. I'm not sure. But Hey, somebody asked me to read the Bible to him. I'm going to read the Bible to him. So I take out my little pocket Bible, open it up and all of a sudden, from the front of the bus comes this guy who always hit me and he says, are you gonna read from the Bible? He said Yeah, and he's is can I listen? Wow, it was a...

...little skeptical. I didn't know what he was gonna do, just make more fun of me, or what he was going to do, and I said okay, yeah, it's fine. So I read from the Scriptures. We ended up, when he got home, having a conversation that went for a few hours, talking about Christ, salvation, and the end of the story is he committed his life to Christ. He's still following Christ. I talked to him this last week. He's still following God years later. I said, you know, when you were in bed and you used to pass me, you've always hit me in the arm. Why did you do that? And he said, well, I really don't know, but I used to hit people in the arm that I liked. I said, I wish you wouldn't have liked me, but nonetheless God did a work in his life. I've worked as lasted. Sometimes we need to see. We think about people who we despair of ever having a desire for the Gospel. People who leave the church we think are lost forever, friends and family that you've long shared the Gospel with and prayed for and interceded for, and you think there was no hope and everything about them indicates bad and negative and and you think, oh, it's just it's just not even worth it anymore and I don't even know if I could pray anymore. And all of these things. But maybe, just maybe there's a Levi that's there that we don't see. But Jesus sees something and God sees something in them that we can't see, that we're blinded to see what it is. But who knows, perhaps perhaps God will do a great work and we need to be able to look and see with the eyes faith. I know not everybody is going to come to Christ, I know that, but let us have the faith and believe and seek not to give up. Maybe there is a Levi that we don't see. Can we pray, Lordly, thank you for the faith that Leavi I had and believing on you and trusting in you and following you. And Lord, he saw something that Lord, not the Pharisees and scribes could see in that day, but he saw in you a redeemer who would die for a sins, who would go to the Cross and shed his blood for the sins that he committed. And Lord, we see you as well. We see you on the cross, we see you crying out in mercy and we know that anyone here today that sincerely cries out to you as you work in their life can know you and find you as a savior, Lord, because you've find them...

...first. And so, Lord, we pray and ask God you would help us. We all have people on our heart's lot, people very close to us, people that we love very, very dearly. And Lord, we look at them. I know I do. Lord, I look at them and I think, Lord, there was just no hope. But Lord, help us to see that perhaps there is a Levi. Perhaps there is one, and perhaps you have a work yet to do, and help us not to give up. But the trust in you. Lord, we praise you for the work of salvation that we have had in our heart and we pray, God, that you would help us not to be shy about sharing, but to tell others about the good news of the Gospel of Christ. We prayed in Christ name. Amen. Amen. The scripture tells us we have a mission.

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