I don’t know about you, but personally, I love parties!
It’s just fun getting together with friends. And hopefully there’s food, some hard drinks like LaCroix, and maybe a fire pit for s’mores … or just burning stuff.
Fun fact: One night we had our small group over to our house for a fire, and when we ran out of wood I ended up burning one of my kids’ dressers. #bestdadever
But for me, when it comes to parties and going to a party, the most important question I want to ask is: Who is going to be at the party? Like who’s coming? It’s kind of shallow, but it’s so important. Is family coming? Okay, how about our strange uncle? If it’s a group of friends, which friends? Is Sarah coming? And what about her awkward boyfriend?
The “who” at a party matters.
Even in Jesus’ day, it was important to note who came to a party.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Levi. Levi is a tax collector, which means that he’s Jewish, but he works for the foreign government, the Romans, the people who took advantage of the Jews. Basically, Levi is playing for the other team, getting rich off of taxing his own people.
Now as a godly person in Jesus’ time, you were told to stay away from tax collectors because you might become like them. You didn’t want their sin to rub off on you.
On one occasion, we’re told that Jesus is leaving town when he sees a man named Levi. But instead of just walking past him, what does Jesus do? We’re told Jesus approaches Levi and commands this shady tax collector to come follow him, to become one of his disciples.
Luke 5 verse 28 says: “So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them.”
Levi got up, followed Jesus, and then later that day Levi threw a party at his house. Again, who did Levi invite? A bunch of tax collectors. Who did he invite? A bunch of broken, messed up people who steal money from others. Who? A bunch of sinners!
But get this: who else was at the party? Jesus! And why is Jesus at Levi’s party? Because Levi invited him. Levi was broken. He met Jesus. And Levi’s life was changed. He’s no longer the same person. And now Levi’s throwing this party. Why? Because he wants all of his broken friends to meet Jesus too. He wants his friends to meet the One who changed everything about him.
One place I read said that this party at Levi’s house is a perfect picture of what the church could and should be.
At its best the Church is a bunch of broken people inviting other broken people to meet this great guest of honor: Jesus!
Later on in the story, we learn that as the party is taking place some of the religious people, the Pharisees, called Jesus out for hanging with shady people like tax collectors.
“Why do you hang out with such scum?” they grumbled.
I love Jesus’ response. He says: “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
That’s powerful stuff.
Jesus is saying He didn’t come for those who think that they have it all figured out, but instead for those who know they don’t. Jesus didn’t come for the healthy, He came for the sick. Not for the Pharisee, but for Levi. For the tax collector. For you and me. This is such good news. Isn’t it?
In our brokenness, Jesus comes to us. After our biggest mistake. When we feel like an outsider. When we feel like we fail as a friend, follower of Jesus, and as a human being. When we’re sick. In these moments, Jesus doesn’t avoid us, instead He comes near.
We have a God who looks for the broken, who know that they’re broken. A God who looks for the sick, who know that they’re sick. He looks for the imperfect, who know their imperfections. I’m so thankful that Jesus comes for those don’t have it all figured out. Because I know for myself, I have nothing figured out, except my need for Jesus!
This post originally appeared on Adam Weber's blog and was republished with permission.