Sunday, August 11, 2013

Read Luke 5:27-32
Levi left everything, and then threw a party for Jesus. Who did he invite? People he knew: other tax collectors and other low-lifes of society. The Pharisees were not impressed.

In reply, Jesus says that he came to heal the sick, rather than the healthy, to be healed, and to call sinners, rather than the righteous, to repentance and salvation.

But isn’t everyone spiritually “sick”? Isn’t everyone a sinner? Who are these “well” people that don’t need the physician or these “righteous” people who aren’t called to repentance?

These “righteous” are self-righteous. They are righteous is their own eyes, but not before God.

Jesus doesn’t disagree with the fact that the tax collectors and everyone at the party are sinners. But does Jesus consider the Pharisees to be righteous? Absolutely not.

Jesus hated self-righteousness and hypocrisy, because it’s the worst kind of un-righteousness. This is why Jesus was so uncompromising with the Pharisees: they knew the scriptures, so they should have known better. If you’re not convinced that Jesus identified the Pharisees generally as rotten-to-the-core hypocrites, read Luke 11:37-44, and Luke 12:1.

When Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” he meant something like this: “While you are stuck in your hypocrisy, pointing the finger at others, there is no call of repentance and salvation for you. You need to know and confess that you are a sinner, that you’re sick and in need of a doctor. You need to know that you are poor, a captive of sin, and blind and oppressed before you can be healed.”

What category do you place yourself in? The righteous who needs no repentance, or the sinner who needs saving?

If you see yourself as righteous, and in no need of repentance, let me tell you plainly: you’re not. If you need more convincing, leave a comment.

If you recognise that you’re a sinner, but have faith in God, through the work of Christ, then you’re a true Christian brother or sister.

If you don’t have faith in Jesus, and don’t acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour then you desperately need to confess to him that you’re a sinner, and repent, and be healed by the great physician.

The truth is: I can’t tell what’s in your heart. I’m quite easy to fool, but not God. The self-righteous exist within the body of Christ: they look and sound and act like our brothers and sisters, but inside are “full of greed and wickedness”. It’s a fearful thing. That’s why the Word says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Would you Follow?

Read Luke 5:27-32
Tax collectors were the most despised group in Jewish society, at about the same social level as prostitutes. “Tax collectors and sinners” is a phrase we see pop up many times in the gospels. The tax collectors were Jews that had sold out to the Roman Government, in a big way. Each tax collector was required to extract a certain tax quota from the people. Anything they could extort beyond that went into their own pockets. They were extortionists who collected money for the oppressive Roman overlords, and skimmed off the top for themselves. They were thieving traitors.

Levi was sitting at his tax booth, when Jesus came past and said, “Follow me”. And Levi got up, left everything and followed him. This was a huge sacrifice: clearly a bigger sacrifice than that made by the fishermen who left their nets. The fisherman could return to their nets later, should they change their minds. Once a tax collector gave up his lucrative post, he couldn’t just go and get it back. It was a government position, and men were lining up for the job. Levi made a truly life-changing decision when he left it all to follow Jesus.

Would I be willing to leave everything, if that’s how I was called to follow Jesus? What about you? If Jesus was calling you to leave everything, and go to Asia, or Africa, or Central Australia, would you leave everything and follow him? Exactly how we are called appears to be different for different people, but if you were sure of the call, would you follow?