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February 24, 2024

Calling the Unacceptable. It's what Jesus does.

How the Unacceptable become Acceptable

Luke 5:1-32
Derived from the Transcript of Craig Trierweiler

Follow Him

Let's follow Jesus one more time. He goes from the lake to the street to the home, and finally he goes to the tax booth. What we're going to find in God's economy is that he makes the unacceptable acceptable. Take a look at Luke 5:27 aAfter this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”

Levi is sitting at a tax booth at work. He's the local IRS agent. Levi is his Jewish name. So we know that he's is Jewish, but he's working on behalf of the Roman Empire. Therefore, Levi is unacceptable to both parties.

"...he makes the unacceptable acceptable."

He's unacceptable to the Romans because he's Jewish. He's unacceptable to the Jews because he's working for Rome. Do you get it? He's an unacceptable man. If Jesus is aiming for popularity, Levi is the wrong guy to choose – and so is the ragtag group of fishermen. So is the unclean leper, and so is a paralytic. But Jesus showcases the beauty of the gospel in that he does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

And so here he is walking by the tax booth, and Jesus says to him, “Follow me” – Come join my band of ragtag misfits that will comprise the first church. And it says in verse 28, “and leaving everything, he rose and followed him.” What a life changing decision that that was. Little did this boy named Levi know. Levi, who was also known by his Greek name, Matthew, little did he  know that that decision to follow Jesus would lead to a life of discipleship of three years and witnessing the resurrection of Jesus Christ, followed by the written book called Matthew, to which he showcases the Kingdom of God in this King who has conquered death.

Sit Down to Eat.

It was a decision that changed his life. It's a decision that can change yours. It all goes back to the day that God made the unacceptable man acceptable – and if that were not enough for the day, Levi invites Jesus over to his house where he has a dinner party with a whole bunch of other Levi's. Take a look with me at this collection of misfits that gather at the dinner table.

Verse 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.” Just a bunch of ragtag tax collector sinners like you and me. I mean, they're just a mixed bag of humanity. There they are sitting around the table, all of them, every single one of them unacceptable, foolish, weak, low and despised; but God chose them. And there he is sitting at the dinner table, Jesus, and once again, the pharisees and the sadducees, the scribes, those who think themselves most deserving of the kingdom, look upon it and they think that Jesus has crossed a line of impropriety because he's hanging out with sinners.  The Pharisees and the scribes grumbled at his disciples saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 

Praise God that He dines with people like me! Praise God that He makes the unacceptable acceptable!

The Mission of the Gospel

I often sum up the sermon in a single sentence. Jesus, In this moment gives the entire mission of the gospel in a sentence. He reminds them why he came. He says, Listen, It's not the healthy that need the doctor, it's the sick. It's a metaphor. Healthy people don't need a doctor, sick people do. And here it is: Here's the mission in a sentence. Verse 30: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

“I've not come to call the righteous,” that is, I've not come to call people that think themselves high, lofty and deserving. Listen, I have come to call those who recognize they're desperate need of a savior. I have come to call people that are social misfits and unacceptable and outcasts, and to touch the untouchable and to forgive the unforgivable. That's why I've come! I've come for people like you! What a glorious savior!

"...I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Here is an Action Step: Repent and believe. The people most qualified to enter the kingdom are those who don't deserve to be there. This is the inverse relationship of this passage. Those who feel least deserving of the kingdom, the fisherman, the leper, the paralytic and the tax collector, are those who are filled with joy at the invitation of the Son to come, and they enter the kingdom. They become part of the tribe of Christians! While at the very same time those who are feeling that they're most deserving of the kingdom are those who begrudge it, and they are left on the outside. Which one are you?

Consider your Calling.

When is the last time, maybe in your devotional life or in worship, where you’re singing songs of great praise to our God, or you're reading the Scripture alone in private, and you have this moment where your heart feels like it's being ripped in two and you recognize both his great holiness and your great sinfulness, and it feels as if you are coming undone at the seams. Then in that moment of just feeling as if your soul is coming apart, you feel the loving kindness and the mercy of God reassure you that, “I chose people like you.”

If you have not had those moments, I implore you, consider your calling. Because to those who are unusable, listen, he says, from now on, “I'll make you fishers of men.” To those who are untouchable, he says, “I will, be clean.” To those who are unforgivable, he says, “Man, your sins are forgiven.” And to those who are unacceptable, he says, “come on, ‘follow me,’ because I've not come to call the righteous, but I've come to call sinners like you.”