According To Luke: Follow Me

According To Luke: Follow Me

Over the Christmas holidays, my family did some traveling. We spent a grand total of 18 hours in the van together. It was a rich and rewarding experience. As we traveled we played a little game where we would count car tags from other states.  We got to 39 states and two different tags from Canada. Not to bad. While counting tags, I also noticed the dizzying array of bumper stickers. 

There is a lot of wisdom in bumper stickers you know. One of the more interesting ones that I saw said this, “Don’t follow me, Im lost too”. 

Now that’s pretty funny. There is a lot of truth in that statement. I don’t know about you but I have been guilty of following the wrong person. Going the wrong direction. I have ended up more lost that when I started. Answer this question for me:

Who Are You Following?

Luke 5:27-32 ESV
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Jesus Call To Discipleship Is…

I. Compelling vs. 27-28
Luke 5:27-28
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

Perhaps this is my favorite part of the story. Here we are introduced to Levi, or Matthew, and we discover that Matthew is a tax collector. Matthew was a Jewish man who was working for the enemy. Matthew collected taxes for the Romans. Not only that but it was common practice for this Jewish turncoats to take a little off the top for themselves. They would overcharge their own people to line their pockets and keep the Roman machine of oppression properly oiled. 

Levi was a bad guy. He was selfish. He as greedy. He was driven by money and in doing so he wronged his own people. Did Matthew know better? Sure he did. He was educated. He was schooled. He grew up in a day where religious education and religion pervaded every experience of human life. Matthew knew that his actions were wrong, as we will see here in a minute, but he didn’t care. 

Notice that Jesus called Matthew while he was sitting at the tax collection table. He was in the very booth where he would rob his people. Who knows, maybe Matthew had even robbed members of Jesus’ very own family of their hard earned wages. Certainly Matthew had taken money from Jesus’ friends. 

Still, Jesus called him not when he was convicted or when Matthew was looking to get his life right. Matthew was not searching. He was seeking. He was in the booth and burying people in his greed and lust for money and power. 

Still Jesus called him. Him of all people. Surly there was someone better. More honorable. More charitable. More worthy. More capable. More holy. More just. 

Still Jesus called him and let me remind you that the calling of Christ is very compelling. Scripture tells us that immediately Matthew left “everything” to follow Jesus. 

Greek Word Study:

Original Word: πᾶς, πᾶσα, πᾶν
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: pas
Phonetic Spelling: (pas)
Short Definition: all, the whole, every kind of
Definition: all, the whole, every kind of.

This Greek word for “everything” is a simple word but it has many meanings. When properly viewed, this word also means, every form, every kind, every respect, every way, everyone and it also means forever. 

So strange that this is the word used in this context. 

Jesus’ call was so compelling that Matthew was willing to leave:

Every form of evil.

Every kind of wickedness.

Every respect of his former way of living.

Every way that he had hurt and wronged people.

Everyone who might tempt him to sin. 

He suddenly, completely and wholeheartedly became willing to leave everything he knew…FOREVER! 

Why? Jesus called him. 

So what is the application for us today? When Jesus calls, He demands that we leave everything. Every evil. Every wicked behavior. Everything forever. 

Say that with me this morning. Everything Forever! 

Quote: Blogger Nate Pyle

Many of us have world-views that are based more on political ideologies than the teachings of Jesus. Many of us live our of our self-protections rather than our trust in a sovereign God. Too many decisions are made because of idols we cling tightly to rather than making decisions out of a decision to follow Jesus with everything. But following Jesus means we give up everything. It means we give up our world views, our ideologies, our desires, our idols, our insecurities, and whatever else we give authority to in our life. If we are to become like Jesus, which is what following Jesus is all about, then we must give up everything.

I John 2:15-17 ESV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Jesus Call To Discipleship Is…

I. Compelling vs. 27-28
II.Converting vs. 29
Luke 5:29 ESV
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 

Illustration: Transformers
As a kid I loved transformers. This transformer toy is about 30 years old. Maybe a little older actually. I loved how one second a transformer could be a car and then it could be a robot. I would spend hours in my room as a child just playing with these toys. 

I have always been fascinated with things that transform. I love hearing transformation stories. I get excited when people decide to change their lives. That change can manifest itself in our jobs. Perhaps in 2018 you will change careers. It can happen in our marriages. Maybe this year you will go to marriage counseling to adjust how you treat your husband or wife. It can even happen physically. Some of you will decide to battle the bulge and lose weight. You will transform yourself. 

We do have some power to transform, but ultimate transformation comes through the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. Only God can bring to life that which is dead. Only God can help deploy spiritual gifts that were at one time absent and now present. Only God and renew the spirit and soul of a man to become something different. 

Do you see the transformation in Levi’s life after hearing the call of Christ? I see Levi transform from selfish to selfless. Scripture tells us that Levi made dinner for Jesus. Levi didn’t use his servant or cater the event. Levi got his hands dirty and made something for Jesus’ enjoyment. 

I do. I see a man who was once greedy become generous. Levi gave back for once in his life. This was more than a grilled cheese sandwich. This was a feast. 

I see a man who moved dramatically from closed off to others to practically evangelical. He invited all the other sinners to meet Jesus. 

Friends, this is quite a transformation. Levi was a new person. A different man. He has embraced a transformed life. 

How did this happen? Was it sudden for Levi? Probably not. Change happens gradually but we can start to set patterns that help us perform in more Godly ways. A few years ago I spoke to a man struggling with alcohol addiction, his first step to sobriety was to stop going to bars. A met another man who struggled with opioid addiction. His first step was to share the problem with his wife and now he is living pain pill free. I met another man struggling with online viewing habits, he installed a Christian based web blocker and employed the help of trusted friends. His marriage improved. 

You need more power than just willpower in your life. You need God’s power in your life.

The “fruit of the Spirit” are the qualities that God puts in your life when the Holy Spirit lives through you. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

How does God produce the fruit in your life? Not by willpower. You don’t go out and say, “I’m going to be a more patient person!” That doesn’t work.
The Holy Spirit has to grow it on the inside. You try to say, “I’m going to be more patient. I’m going to be more loving.” It’s like tying some oranges on a eucalyptus tree and calling it an orange tree. It doesn’t work that way. Fruit can only come from the inside — his Spirit living through you.

How does the Holy Spirit work in your life? The answer is gradually: “And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT).

When God wants to make a mushroom, he takes six hours. When God wants to make an oak tree, he takes 60 years. The question is: Do you want your life to be a mushroom or an oak tree?

You didn’t collect your hurts, habits, and hang-ups overnight. It took you a long time to get as messed up as you are! Someone approached me once and said, “Pastor Stuart, I need you to solve my marriage problem.” I said, “How long have you been married?” Fifteen years. “How long have you had this problem?” Ten years.

And you want a five-second answer? It isn’t going to happen! You’ve got to peel that onion one layer at a time.

The Holy Spirit works within us to become gradually more and more like him. Your character is the sum total of your habits. Your responsibility is to develop new habits to change.

Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT
“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy.”

Jesus Call To Discipleship Is…

I. Compelling vs. 27-28
II.Converting vs. 29
III. Critical vs. 31-32
Luke 5:31-32
31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they say “well that church is just full of hypocrites”? What do you say to that sort of statement?

The statement is problematic because its true. The church is filled to the brim with hypocrites. It is also filled with selfish, greedy, power hungry, angry, disillusioned, disappointed, sinners.  

The church is filled with sinners. Dirty disgusting sinners. They are completely correct and there is not much to argue against it.

The other day I went to Thomas Hospital. I went to visit my friend Craig Jones. Craig was very sick. He had been in that hospital for several days. He had lots of ups and downs. There were days that I went to see him where he felt good and day when I went to see him when he felt bad. He was tired. He was exhausted. 

By the way, sick people belong in a hospital. 

Could you imagine how crazy of me it would have been if I went into Craig’s room and gotten all judgmental with him? What if I would have looked down on him for being sick, for not feeling well, for staying in the hospital? 

Friends, sick people need a hospital. That’s what the church is. It is a spiritual hospital for spiritually sick people. I wonder if the person who gets frustrated that the church is filled with hypocrites becomes equally disgusted the the hospitals are filled with sick people.

It would be like an ambulance coming to get someone having a heart attack and the heart attack patient refuses to go to the hospital because there are people there who have had heart attacks. 

A Church Is A Hospital For Sinners, Not a Museum For The Saints 

Friends, if the church is the hospital, then Jesus is the doctor. You heard me right. I am not your doctor. Your Sunday School teacher is not your doctor. Jesus is the doctor.Take your sickness to Him. Ask Him to help you, assist you and transform you. 

Closing Illustration: Copernicus In Need Of A Savior

The call of Christ to grow in him is critical. It is important.

Nicolaus Copernicus was a famed astronomer born in Poland on February 19, 1473. He was a mathematician whose accomplishments changed men’s ideas of the universe. Also he was a well-known writer. Although highly educated in astronomical science, he was much more-he was a child of God who had learned to know and trust his Savior, Jesus Christ. When he was critically ill with his final illness, his book, On Resolutions of the Celestial Bodies, just off the press, was laid in his arms.

At the close of his life, he did not think of himself as an astronomer or scientist, but as a sinner who needed the forgiveness of his Savior. He asked that the following epitaph be written on his gravestone:

"Lord, I do not ask the kindness Thou didst show to Peter. I do not dare ask the grace Thou didst grant to Paul; but, Lord, the mercy Thou didst show to the dying robber, that mercy show to me. That earnestly I pray."

I John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Follow Jesus Today!


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