Scenes from Levi’s Deli (Like We Do?)
Posted on August 22, 2019 by Erin Culleny in Freedom Fighters
“One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, ‘Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?’ Jesus replied, ‘Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’” — Matthew 9:14-15 (NLT)
You more than likely already see this the way I see it but I’m gonna throw it out there anyway, doesn’t it seem like comparing and judging go in hand in hand? In the case of apples and oranges one could take the position that, after looking at the two, red is a more appealing color than orange could ever be. Maybe after tasting the two, one could say that oranges are sweeter than apples could ever be. Or perhaps it is a matter of what’s inside, meaning that apples are more solid than oranges which are more liquid. If you’re getting my drift here we can see that I am making a comparison, but now comes the moment of truth, which fruit is better? This requires judgment doesn’t it?
Now, some of you may try to flat line this by saying you like both equally just to avoid the judgment call. However, I don’t see Jesus doing that when the disciples of John the Baptist and those wacky Pharisees approached Him about fasting or what really was the underlining thing…how come You don’t worship YHVH like we do? How come You don’t observe The Law like we do? How come You don’t keep The Traditions like we do? How come You hang out with those, those, those…SINNERS?!! It seems like the apples have just raised a concern about the oranges here, doesn’t it? Okay to be fair maybe the concern goes the other way around and it’s the oranges concerned about the apples. None the matter folks…a comparison was made and a judgment was called.
But it can’t just end there – we need to go further into the dialogue that Jesus is having with John’s disciples and the Pharisees. In Luke’s Gospel account the whole scene starts with a party at Levi’s (Matthew) house with a statement like this, “But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” (Luke 5:30) Now if I was in attendance that “such scum” comment, well, dem’s fightin’ words but Jesus sets them straight and since they have given the illusion that they are right as rain Jesus tells them He is here for us folks who are “such scum”…those, those, those SINNERS!! Like you and me!!
Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Matthew 9:13). Go and Learn!! Better yet, guys didn’t you read it in the scroll of Hosea? “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know Me more than I want burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Nothing like saying you’re a religious leader and yet not know what that means in its entirety. Maybe Samuel says it better, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
I’m just getting started here, this moment with Jesus (and I mean what is happening at Matthews dinner party) is a fine display on how Jesus is going to flip the script on what people thought was the way to a dedicated life to God. This story has more depth than just a lesson on fasting as we see it on the surface. I need to end here today, we need to take a breather before we ask why new patches on old clothes or new wine in old wineskins aren’t wise decisions to make but until then ponder this…Is fasting something that we do to show our devotion to God or should we fast to make ourselves available to hear from God and devote ourselves to the direction He has imparted to us? Maybe it is just as simple an answer as both. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) has been married for 25+ years (Kathy), has a married son (Kevin) and a daughter in college (Karen). He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Think About This: “The measure of spiritual value is determined by the measure in which God promotes it, not the measure of human activities according to human judgments and energies in the name of God.”—T. Austin Sparks
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. – Psalm 139:7-8
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.