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There’s an important lesson for us in the story of Levi’s call. Following Jesus is not just about what we leave behind, but who we take with us. It’s a lesson that reminds us, the Kingdom of God is a party! 

What was Levi thinking? He heard Jesus’ message and his call to follow, and the first thing he did was throw a party! Who did he invite? Not the religious leaders, not the upstanding citizens. He invited the most hated and reviled people imaginable.

He invited people just like him–tax collectors!

Levi knew the hearts of the people he invited. He knew how his world had rejected them, just like it had rejected him. They were despised and rejected. They never got invited to parties. Not the right parties, anyway.

So Levi invited them to his!

The Kingdom of Heaven is a Party
The Calling of Saint Matthew, by Caravaggio

Who would be on your list?

If you were throwing a party for Jesus, who would you invite? The preacher? Your favorite Sunday School teacher? Movers and shakers? People who already knew Jesus, or people who were desperate to know Jesus?

While at Levi’s party, Jesus responded to his critics, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:27-32).

It’s not just a question of who you would want at your party, but who would Jesus want at your party? Who would he want you to invite and include? Who would he love for you to invite to his party?

The Kingdom of God is a Party

Levi’s call and the party that follows forms an excellent conclusion to a chapter about people encountering Jesus. The questions that arise during the party point to Jesus’ parable of pouring new wine into old wineskins, and provide the background for the call of discipleship found in the Sermon on the Plain in chapter 6.

The call is not just to follow Jesus but to live a life that is distinct in the way we value others. As we move ahead in the Gospel of Luke, we’ll look at the call to discipleship; the call to be different.