Luke 5: 29-36
“Then Levi 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.” They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
A great banquet; a large crowd; lengthy feasting; all over the gospels it is the same, Jesus loved parties! In Luke’s gospel alone I count 10 such dinners.
It isn’t true that Jesus only ate with tax-collectors and sinners, the sick and the condemned. He ate with those who saw themselves as healthy and righteous before God. Of course the point is they saw themselves as that, not that they were, for everyone is sinful.
So what is Jesus demonstrating?
God loves parties! He calls all people to a banquet, to a table of fellowship with Him.
Isaiah 25: 6 “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.”
Song of Songs 2: 4 “Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.”
Revelation 19:9 “Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
The Bible is full of references to the great invitation to the eternal banquet.
Jesus clearly demonstrates he knew this as he launched into his mission of having dinner with as many people as possible, no matter who they are.
But guess what? Not everyone likes parties!
- Some complain about the clientele. For them, everyone needs to be of the same category, namely, like them. They want to be the ones who decide who can enjoy God and more importantly who God can enjoy. They are fellowship-busters. The ones who turn the lights off and pull the music. They are frivolous-finishers. The decorum brigade.
- Some think they don’t need to party and they don’t look like people you would want at your party. They are not hungry they are healthy; they are not in need of fun they have deep joy, so deep you cannot see it; they are right especially where others are wrong; they are righteous meaning they believe God is on their side agreeing with them not to be involved in such distasteful happiness.
- Some don’t know when to fast or feast so they just fast. They don’t recognise the presence of Jesus amongst them. He was there right in front of them, God Incarnate. They missed it. They still do. Some will miss the eternal banquet and it will be those who everyone thought would be the first to the table that will surprise us the most.