Saturday 20 February 2010

Bible Book:

"Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them."(v.29)

Luke 5:27-32 Saturday 20 February 2010


This would have been a scandalous incident for many of Jesus'contemporaries. Tax collectors colluded with the occupying forces -the Romans. They often abused their position of power to line theirown pockets. They extracted money from those who could least affordit. Yet it was this outcast of society who responded to Jesus' callto "Follow me".

The trouble was by association. You can imagine people thinking"birds of a feather flock together". The Pharisees went one stepfurther - they said it. Yet Jesus stayed in Levi's company,accepted his dinner invitation and lingered in the company of alarge crowd of tax collectors who came for the meal. (At leastaffluent Levi could afford the catering costs!)

There are two contrasting understandings of what holiness means.The Pharisees (which means 'the separated ones') believed that tofollow God they must keep away from anything that might contaminatethem. There were strict rules of hygiene, diet and of course, thecompany they kept. Jesus' holiness was less rarified. He touchedthe leprous, he was known to be a friend of prostitutes and stayedin the houses of some questionable members of society. But did thatmake him less holy or more?

Jesus' actions stirred up conflict. To accept Levi's hospitalitywas to fly in the face of social convention. What do you think Maryhis mother thought when he kept such friends! More importantly, astorm was brewing between him and the Pharisees. He could havetried to appease his detractors and not have gone to Levi's house.Or he could have kept it quiet and slipped in when no one waslooking. By walking through the front door and sitting at thedinner table his actions spoke volumes. Sometimes actions are morepowerful than words.

What do you think the disciples were thinking and feeling aboutJesus' new choice of company? Many of them would have been far frompleased to have a collaborator among their number. Note too, thatit was the disciples who received the complaints of the Pharisees.It must have been hard for them to hear grumbles about somethingover which they had no control and little sympathy. It presentedthem with quite a tussle: loyalty to Jesus versus the logic of thePharisees.

To Ponder

How would you define the word 'holy'?

If you were to throw a party who would be themost outlandish person you could invite? Would you invite them?

Can you think of a time when a symbolic actionspoke to you more powerfully than words?

What action can you do that speaks morepowerfully than any words you might say?

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