Luke 5:27-32 Acceptance inspires repentance

Luke 5:27-32

After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.

And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”


Jesus, during His ministry on earth was exemplary in that He made sure everything He did carried a purpose. He did not indulge in meaningless self-serving activities disguised as religious observances. One of the virtues that touches people’s lives is the power of truth and grace. Jesus made sinners felt accepted and He gave them the hope of attaining righteousness. In the same token, Jesus was uncompromising in His values and did not mince His Words. Today’s devotion teaches us that acceptance inspires repentance. God accepts sinners and while they’re in the revelry of sin, He fellowships with them. In the process, He inspires them in the way of truth and leads them into repentance.


He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.

The tax collector in those days was ostracized by the Jewish community. They were treated as outcasts because they collaborated with the Romans to extort their own people. Hence, Jesus warned the tax collectors never to collect more than they should (Luke 3:13). It was interesting that Jesus would call a tax collector to be His personal disciple. And even more intriguing was Levi’s spontaneous reception of Jesus’ invitation for he was not the least disheartened by his based moral stature.

Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?

Levi wasted no time in organizing a big reception in honour of Jesus. Levi’s motive was none other than to expose his friends to what he had experienced in his recent encounter with Jesus. Jesus and His disciples were seen to be at ease in the setting of a huge crowd of tax collectors and sinners. The Jewish leaders having caught wind of the banquet approached Jesus and accused Him for associating with tax collectors and sinners. Eating and drinking is an expression of intimate fellowship among beloveds. Their accusation stems from a deep seated jealousy towards Jesus who had in their view amassed great popularity at the expense of holiness.


What draws sinners into the church is acceptance.

Sinners can never be coerced into conversion. Salvation if anything, must be received out of gratitude and love, and not out of fear. Hence, it is important that the very first response of the church community towards sinners is one of empathy and acceptance. Jesus was found reclining at the table seemingly at ease with tax collectors and sinners; He was not the least repulsed by their worldly ways. In fact, most people with the exception of a few are actually angry and discontented with their current state of dilapidation. And it is for such that Christ came: I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Acceptance does not spawn rebellion, on the contrary, it releases hope and strength for repentance. Jesus said, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17. Jesus did not come to judge or to intimidate sinners into repentance, He came to bring hope that righteousness was possible through a love relationship with Him. It is through the process of discipleship with Jesus that sinners find recourse in the web of sin and hopelessness.

Acceptance must come before repentance.

God accepts sinners and while they’re in the revelry of sin, He fellowships with them. In the process, He teaches them the way of truth and lead them towards repentance and salvation. Grace describes the ease in which holiness mingles with unholiness. The grace of God is evident in the way a believer is sanctified; it does not demand prompt retribution against sinners. The Holy Spirit’s first entrance into a believer’s body is one of grief and contradiction; a light in a world of darkness and sin. The apostle Paul said,

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Romans 8:10

Note the contradiction: the body is dead… yet the spirit is alive. God accepts the believer’s body which is dead because of sin by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in it. In the presence of the Spirit and the Word of truth, the bondage of sin and addictions are gradually weakened and broken.

The tabernacle and its system of sacrifices speaks of God’s acceptance of sinners. When the penitent sinner brings an offering to the priest, sin is transferred into the animal and its blood. The blood is then brought into the holy place and sprinkled seven times before the veil as well as on the horns of the altar of incense (Leviticus 4). In the tabernacle system, it is clear that the sins of the penitent sinner are transferred into the holy place. The grace of God is evident by the contamination of the holy place by blood ladened with the sins of man.

The church must evaluate the effectiveness of their programme in the vision of discipleship and evangelism.

The Pharisees often congregated around religious activities which had nothing to do with discipleship or evangelism. Jesus however, was purposeful in discipling and in evangelising the nations. He rallied His disciples to reach out to the class of outcasts. They touched those whom the Pharisees deemed as sinners unworthy of salvation. Many churches having waned in the vision of discipleship and evangelism resort to entertaining their members in order to keep them happy. They organise overseas tours thinly disguised as mission trips in order to satisfy the church’s ambition to fulfill the great commission. They took the easy path by running canned packages and videos passed off as discipleship programmes. Cell groups are reduced to activities that satisfy members’ thirst for gossips. The church community congregate among themselves forming cliques that are impossible to penetrate. As a result, new comers to the church services are left high and dry which is no different from all other social functions.

Therefore, church leaders must not be caught by the humdrum of the weekly grind but take effort to evaluate the effectiveness of the programmes in the vision of evangelism and discipleship. Leaders in the course of their ministry must ask the following questions:

  • Are members reading the Word, being able to understand and apply them?
  • Are members freed from their bondages of hurt, addictions, and curses?
  • Are members winning in their struggles in the family, work and ministry?
  • Are members growing in effectiveness pertaining to their ministry and career?
  • What are the difficulties in the ministry that needed breakthrough?
  • What are the changes needed in the values system and culture of the church?
  • What are this year’s objectives that concern spirituality and culture of the church?

Church leaders must stop taking the easy path of importing programmes but be diligent in the work of discipling and evangelising.


Do you have an uncontrollable urge to reprimand those who are struggling with sin? Perhaps, you have a misunderstanding concerning grace. While it is God’s responsibility to judge, it remains man’s responsibility to accept the sinner. Let us ask God for the ability to empathise with those who are struggling and encourage them to be filled with the Spirit through which we overcome the passions of the flesh.

Dear Lord, let me be the face of grace to exonerate the guilty. Cause me to be the voice of truth to free those who are in bondage. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar