And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.…
I. JESUS BEHOLDING SINNERS. "Jesus saw a publican." Jesus, brethren, sees all the sons of men. His eyes behold all classes. Christ saw Paul while, in his unconverted state, he was sitting at the feet of Gamaliel; and while he was afterwards occupied in persecuting the Christian Church; and He took not off His eyes from Paul till, in deep contrition and self-devotion, he cried out — "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Christ saw the woman of Samaria at Jacob's well, long before she had any idea that Christ's seeing her would issue in her salvation. Christ saw Zaccheus in the fig-tree before his conversion, and called him down to active service and eternal salvation. Christ saw Lydia of Thyatira, the seller of purple, long before she had any conception that her heart would be opened to hear the word spoken by St. Paul. But do not mistake my words. To prevent your conversion, Satan makes some of you imagine that, if you become religious, the Lord Jesus will wish you to neglect your proper callings. Far otherwise. He expects His people to be " diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." But, when Jesus beholds sinners with the eye of His pity, He does so with a view to their salvation. This we shall see, while we state our second point.
II. JESUS CALLING SINNERS. Jesus said unto Levi, "Follow Me." There are, you observe, brethren, two kinds of call. There is the general call, and there is the effectual call.
III. JESUS HONOURED BY SINNERS. It is the cry of every true believer — "What can I render unto the Lord for all His mercies? "This was the cry of Levi's heart as soon as he was brought to a saving knowledge of his Redeemer. He was willing to do anything which would show his attachment to that Saviour, to whose love and mercy he was so much indebted. He, therefore, made for Jesus "a great feast," "in his own house." He then thought to show his respect for Christ by providing for Him a great entertainment; and, with a view to their spiritual benefit, he invited to it many of his old friends from among the publicans and his other companions. Now this, brethren, is one great proof of an effectual call. David, in his deep thankfulness for God's sparing mercy, said to Araunah the Jebusite — "I will not offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing." There are innumerable ways, brethren, in which we also can show our gratitude to Christ. Temporally and spiritually we can help Christ's brethren; and of such acts He declares, "Ye have done it unto Me." Those, therefore, of you who never make any sacrifice, either of your substance or your time, for Christ and Christ's work, have reason at once to conclude that you have heard the Saviour call, but that thus far that call has been unheeded. It is a great trial to a really spiritual man to mix with the world at all, whether on festive or on other occasions. And as soon as such mixing with the world ceases to be a trial, mischief has been done. But we come now to notice a remarkable interruption in the feast, and this interruption gave our Lord the opportunity of stating —
IV. THE BLESSINGS IMPARTED BY THE GOSPEL. There never was any good done in this fallen world without some men objecting. When Nehemiah was building the walls of Jerusalem, "What do these feeble Jews?" was the taunt of Tobiah and Sanballat. And, what is more observable, the objection generally proceeds from those who ought to be the last to make it. The objection often comes from those who profess to be the spiritual guides of the people. Look at the case before us. Here was Levi making a feast for publicans and sinners, with Jesus among the guests, with a view to their spiritual profit. And who can object to such a proceeding? The civil and the ecclesiastical rulers of the day — "the scribes and Pharisees" — they object. They do not attack the Master; they attack the disciples. So is it now. Many objectors attack Christ's servants, but they little imagine that, in so doing, they are attacking Christ. If, therefore, you are attacked, brethren, for your piety, remember that no one was more attacked than was Christ Himself. You may safely leave your cause with Jesus, as your faithful Creator. He will answer every objection, and you shall hold your peace. It was so here. The scribes and Pharisees murmured against the disciples, and said — "Why do ye eat with publicans and sinners?" To this question Jesus gave them a reply they little expected. He told them plainly, that was the object of His gospel. It was not meant for self-righteous formalists. It was meant for those who feel their guilt — for those who are sensible of their spiritual disease. I now add two other practical remarks. We see hence —
1. The freeness of salvation. Medicine is for the sick. Salvation is for sinners. In all diseases there are outward symptoms. That precious blood, which He shed for our sins on the cross, is a never-failing remedy. It makes crimson iniquities as white as snow. It cleanses sins as red as scarlet, till they become as wool.
2. The peril of a worldly spirit.
(C. Clayton, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.