Levi [Matthew] held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Lk. 5:29-32
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. Lk.12:35-37
Dear Lord Jesus, dinner with good friends last night and these amazing Scripture-stories, fuel my longing for the banquet of all banquets—the quintessential mercy meal—the culinary celebration of which the best festivals are a mere hint and whisper.
So who will get to sit and be served by you at the wedding feast of the Lamb? Only those who’ve been saved by grace alone through faith alone; only tax collectors and “sinners,” and Pharisees and teachers of the law who’ve been clothed in the wedding garments of your righteousness.
Lord Jesus, I praise you for making me a part of your broken-yet-beloved bride; for calling me, healing me, saving me. I have no problem acknowledging my sickness and receiving your remedy. There’s no greater friend of sinners than you. Thank you for eating and drinking, reclining and dining, fellowshipping and communing with the likes of us.
Jesus, if our churches could be criticized by religionists for only one thing, O that it would be because we have become communities where the sick people, broken sinners, and cultural misfits gather to be welcomed, loved and fed. May we grieve when your welcoming heart is not extended as you intend.
And, Jesus, make me much more like Levi—a man so impacted by your love that I’m constantly throwing mini-banquets for my friends. Turn every one of my lunch appointments into a threesome, with you and someone else. Turn my family gatherings into occasions where you’re always filling the empty seat. Make this concave heart of mine far more convex—much more friendly to outsiders, much more like yours, Jesus. So very Amen I pray, in your welcoming and grace-full name.