Passage: Luke 5:27-32

How do we know if we are truly following Jesus and if the gospel is changing us? This passage is about answering this question, what does it mean to follow Jesus?

A. Who does Jesus call?

Jesus calls Levi, tax collector. There are considered worthless, traitors, dishonest and sinful.
But Jesus not only calls Levi but he also makes him an apostle. This is inconceivable.

And Jesus explains who he has come to call in this verse.

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.”

Jesus calls those who see their need for him. But during Jesus’ time and even today, not everyone sees their need for Jesus.

What makes Pharisees stay away from Jesus? The Pharisees followed God out of religious duty and not out of a relationship. Following God is about making sacrifices, keeping rules and leading a good life. And based on how I live, we expect God to be pleased with us, answer our prayers and bless us.

When we rely on our good life and our good works, we don’t see our need for Jesus.

Religious view looks at the world as good and bad, and we always end up on the good side. It views sin as big sin and small sin. As long as we don’t commit any of the big sins such as committing adultery, getting drunk, stealing money or murdering someone, we feel we are ok. We reason with ourselves that we are basically decent, nice, tolerant, helpful, hard working and manage life and family well. So basically we are good people and not like others who don’t manage their life well. We feel good on the inside based on how well we live.

It was this reasoning that kept Pharisees from Jesus. It was their pride in their good life. Nothing wrong in working hard, taking care of our family, showing respect, being nice to others, but this is not our basis for acceptance before God.

The Bible says there is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one good except God. Jesus calls those who see their sickness, their sin, realize and admit how they fail him. They look at their accomplishment and count it rubbish before God. They are broken by their sin and see themselves wretched before God.

A person who is being transformed by the gospel has a growing realization of their sinful heart. The more you follow Jesus, more you see your heart as wretched. The more u grow, the more u realize how deep your sin is. The more mature u become, the more you are able to recognize your own sin.

The mark of a person called by Jesus has a deep sense of his or her own wretchedness and sin. Do you see your need for Jesus?

B. How do we respond?

Levi leaves everything and immediately follows Jesus.

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.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

An encounter with Jesus changes how you see life, others, your work, marriage and money etc.

We see two aspects of Levi’s response. He lets Jesus into all his heart and he takes Jesus into all this life.

No area of our heart is outside his influence. We don’t say, I will follow you in these areas but let’s not talk about these areas. Being follower of Jesus means, every area of my heart is under his influence. There is nothing in my life that Jesus can’t challenge, confront or speak about. Jesus is in total control and total command of our hearts, priorities and lives.

He not only shapes our heart and priorities, but out of joy with being in a relationship with Jesus, we take him into every area of our life. Levi throws a banquet for Jesus and invites his friends.  No part of his life is outside of Jesus’ influence.

Can Jesus speak about your money, relationships, your discipline and your time with him and how much you read the bible and pray? Or are these conversations off limits? Can Jesus confront you about how you use your free time, give excuses, how busy your are, about your marriage and your struggle to forgive hurts?

If the Jesus you follow does not challenge, confront and transform you, you need to question if you are following the real Jesus?

C. How is this life possible?

On the one hand Levi exhibits joy, he takes Jesus into every area of his life and allows Jesus into every area of his heart. We see total gospel transformation.  And on the other hand we see the Pharisees grumbling, angry, bitter, frustrated, irritable, resentful and hostile to Jesus.
How do we experience this kind of joy and transformation?

Matt 9:12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

What does this mean when Jesus says, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”? Another way to understand this is, Jesus says, don’t look at your sacrifice but look for mercy.

Religious tendency is to look at all our sacrifices for God. We tend to look at how much we have served God, obeyed him, given our time and resources, kept the laws and rules, how long we have followed him. The more we look at what we have done and the more we look at our sacrifices to God, the less joy we experience.

When my eyes are on my sacrifices and what I have done, I lose my joy. I feel good about myself. I think that God owes me and he has to answer my prayer or bless me and be pleased with me. I begin to resent God if he does not.

But a person who follows Jesus seeks mercy. What does this mean?

1. A person who truly follows Jesus don’t look at their sacrifice but at look at what God demands of them.

They don’t look at what they did for God but what they owe God. Not how good they are but how great and holy he is.

When you see what God demands from each of us for our sin, how we are don’t love him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, how we don’t love others as God commands us, how we have selfish and self centered hearts, it moves us to seek his mercy. All our righteousness is filthy before a holy and righteous God.

Looking at what God demands of us should make us humble and seek his mercy.

2. A person who truly follows Jesus don’t look at their sacrifice but they look at Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf.

The gospel does not just make us look at what God demands of us but to look at what God has done for us in Christ. When u see how helpless and powerless you are before God,  the depth of your sin and the weight of your guilt and punishment, then what Jesus has done for us as a substitute is sweet and fills us with joy.

Looking at your sacrifice leads to pride and keeps you from Jesus. But looking at his sacrifices humbles you and makes you run to Jesus.

Looking at your sacrifice leads to thinking God owes me but looking at his sacrifice shows how much God loves you.

The deeper you see your own sin and wretchedness, the deeper your need for Jesus and his cross. And this results in a deep and rich joy.

He is calling you deeper and deeper to know him and experience the gospel in every area of your life.

Ranjit David

Ranjit has been in Pastoral Ministry for the last 10 years in various settings. Coming from an Engineering background, he is passionate about working with young professionals in Delhi, using their gifts, teaching from God’s word, and having an open home. His training from Dallas Theological Seminary and Redeemer City to City has equipped him to serve strategically in an urban context.

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