Sermon: Encounters with Christ: Levi’s Effectual Call

Encounters with Christ

Levi’s Effectual Call

Luke 5:27-32

 

**Scripture reading Luke 18:9-14

Luke 5:27-32 (ESV) 

    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.”

How sane would a person be to wait until they were well before going to the doctor?  “I’m alright now Doc, but you should have seen me two weeks ago.” Or what if someone said, “Boy just as soon as I get well I’m going to see the doctor.” That kind of thinking makes no sense at all.  Healthy people don’t go to the doctor; sick people go to the doctor.

That type of logic makes no sense in the physical realm but people often use a similar logic in the spiritual realm and think it makes good sense and it’s just as crazy.  They say, “When I get my life turned around, I’m going to become a Christian.”

In this text, we are shown how salvation comes about.  Notice there is no magical prayer, no coming forward, and no human initiated decision. 

Christ alone saves.  [32] I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

When Jesus gives an effectual call everyone responds.  Jesus didn’t come to earth to make salvation possible but to make it a reality.

Jesus makes the first move.  He seeks out Mathew (Levi) the tax collector.

Romans 3:10-12 (ESV) 

    as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; [11] no one understands;

        no one seeks for God. [12] All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

1. The Call to Follow Christ (5:27)

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

There are two things to notice in this verse. 

a. Jesus’ call was effectual.  When Luke uses the word saw, he means an intense and soul penetrating gaze. He looked Matthew square in the eye and commanded him to become a follower. Christ’s call was effectual.  His command would be obeyed.  When Christ called, Matthew was converted.  Matthew was spared from God’s wrath against sinners as he was called to follow Christ.

Has Christ called you to follow Him?  He still calls today through the Holy Spirit.  Christ still issues effectual calls today. 

b. Jesus knew exactly who He was getting.  Jesus knew Matthew.  Jesus knew what kind of people tax collectors were.  He knew they cheated everyone they could.  He knew they were greedy.  He knew they were traitors to there homeland.  He knew that they had sold out to the Romans.  Jesus knew that everyone detested the rotten lowlife money hungry tax collectors.  He knew that there profession (tax collector) was a synonym for sinner.

There was a lowlife named Levi…

Here as good as any other place in Scripture we are given a clear picture of the unconditional grace of God.  For reasons beyond human understanding and only in the mind of God and for His good purpose we see the selection of Matthew the tax collector unto salvation.

When Christ calls people today, He calls people from all ethnic backgrounds.  He calls us from all professions.  Christ isn’t waiting around until we get more honorable or righteous before He calls.  He calls us as He finds us. 

As followers of Christ we are also called to change- repent of our sin and life of rebellion against God.

2. The Fruit of Repentance (5:28)

 [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.

Earlier Luke writes about the tax collectors who came to hear John the Baptist preach.

Luke 3:7-13 (ESV) 

    He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  [8] Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.  [12] Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”  [13] And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 

I wonder if Matthew was one of these tax collectors who first heard about repentance through the preaching of John.

Collect no more than you are authorized to do.  John was telling them to start being honest.  He was telling them to change.  John’s baptism was one unto repentance so those baptized were challenged to walk in keeping with their baptism of repentance.

Jesus walks up to the toll booth where Matthew charged his taxes and said Follow Me!!  And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

Matthew didn’t know what was in store for him but he did know what he was leaving behind.  Once the toll booth was left abandoned it would be immediately filled with someone else.  Matthew was very expendable to the Romans but to Christ he was not expendable, he would be an apostle, one who would have authority and write sacred Scripture. 

The encounter with Christ cost Matthew his profession.  Matthew loved Christ more than he loved his job.

If you are a Christian today, Christ has called you to leave something.  Everyone must leave something to follow Christ. 

a. We Must Love Christ More Than We Love Other Things-

Matthew 13:44 (ESV) 

    “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

b. We Must Love Christ More than We Love Ourself-

Luke 9:23-24 (ESV) 

    And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  [24] For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 

c. We Must Love Christ More Than We Love Other People-

Luke 14:26 (ESV) 

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 

Christ isn’t interested in being tacked on.  He will not be one of our idols.  We must have no other gods before Him.

We can think of it like this.  Matthew left everything that would keep him from following Christ.  God may not ask us to leave our jobs behind but we must jettison anything that hinders our devotion to Christ.

For Matthew, repentance meant a change of professions.  He would give up his devotion to Herod Antipas and the Roman regime and be fully devoted to Christ.

We see another way Matthew was showing his repentance.

[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.

He was now interested in showing his new treasure, Jesus Christ, to his friends.  The only people Matthew new were other tax gatherers and other sinners.  Perhaps these were some of the publicans that first heard about repentance through John the Baptist.  At any rate, publicans were now being introduced to Christ through a converted publican.

Jesus is showing everyone why He came to earth.  Christianity is not for good people.  In calling Matthew Jesus shows us a great truth: I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

When Jesus declares who his target is He excludes all who think their righteousness is sufficient.  If you think you’re basically a good person you should be alarmed because if you think you’re a good person you can’t be a Christian because Christ didn’t come for you.  He came for sinners.

3.  The Fruit of Self-Righteousness (5:30)

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

The picture would have been a group of Pharisees and scribes standing on the outside of Matthew’s house grumbling in their self-righteousness.  They would not have entered because it would have defiled their self-purity. 

On another occasion recorded in Luke, we see the picture of one standing outside a great feast and grumbling.

Luke 15:25-32 (ESV) 

    “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.  [26] And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.  [27] And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’  [28] But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,  [29] but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.  [30] But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’  [31] And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.  [32] It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”

The older son’s self righteousness kept him from entering the Father’s great banquet feast.  Jesus was using this parable to show the Pharisees their hypocritical hearts.

A truth that we often see in Scripture is that those who think themselves righteous are comparing themselves to other people and not to the plumb line of God’s requirements.  We may look good when held up against another sinner but when we look at God’s requirements and His holiness we are undone and horribly sinful.

Jesus loved to hang out with sinners. Why?

He knew that they were sinners and they knew it.  The Pharisees were sinners also but refused to accept the fact that their good deeds were not enough.  They were far worse.  They thought they could work to earn salvation.  That kind of religion always comes from hell and will send the devote practicer to hell…every time with no exceptions.

They were good church-goers.  They looked at Jesus and His band of sinners and scoffed saying we’re better than you and your losers.  We have superior breeding, coming from Abraham.  We have a superior religious system.  We are fine religious folk who live in a nice neighborhood with nice neighbors.

Matthew 23 (ESV) 

    “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 

    [14]  [15] Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

Matthew 23:25-28 (ESV) 

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  [26] You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

    [27] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.  [28] So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Jesus would rather have a helpless sinner than a self righteous person any day. 

Have you ever thought you were better than someone else?  Have you ever thought that you were basically a good person?

The truth is we are all sinners.  We are sinners by nature and by deed.

Here’s what we have to get right.

We sin because we’re sinners.  Sin comes from within.  Secular psychologists want us to think that we’re basically good and that because of something from outside of us whether it be our environment, parents, whatever we do wrong things.  That’s not true.

We are bad on the inside.  Our corruption is from within.

Mark 7:15 (ESV) 

    There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 

Sin is within us not righteousness.  What we need is an alien righteousness, one that comes from outside of us, one that comes from Christ.

The Pharisees had it backwards but Matthew had it right.

4.  Jesus Came to Save Sinners (5:31-32)

[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.”

Here we are given Jesus’ mission.  He came to save sinners.

Paul said it like this,

Romans 5:6 (ESV)  Christ died for the ungodly

If a person thinks he is in great shape, he won’t go to the doctor, even if he has cancer.  The religious Pharisees had spiritual cancer and didn’t even know it.  The tax collectors saw their sin as terminal. 

Jesus went to Matthew and looked intently at him in a way that pierced Matthew’s soul.  He called Matthew to come and follow Him.

If Christ had not called, Matthew would not have followed.

John 6:44 (ESV) 

    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:65 (ESV) 

    And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

John 15:16 (ESV) 

    You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 

The power to leave the tax booth behind didn’t come from Matthew’s will.  It came from Christ’s effectual call.  The difference in Matthew’s response and the response of the Pharisees was the call of Christ. 

Conversion is all about the glory of God.  Matthew isn’t in heaven saying boy God really saw something in me.  God saw nothing in Matthew except a sinner.  For reasons unknown to us God picked Matthew from out of many others to mercifully grant grace and repentance.  Matthew cannot boast in anything but the cross of Christ. 

The great theologian B. B. Warfield said, “Sinful man in need, not of inducements or assistance to save himself, but precisely of saving; and Jesus Christ has come not to advise, or urge, or woo, or help him save himself, but to save him.”

Jesus didn’t come to help you, He came to save you.  Jesus didn’t come to make salvation a possibility but He came to make it a reality.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: