“After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 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.” (Luke 5:27-29)
Notice the first action of Levi (also known as Matthew), the tax collector. What does he do first?
One day he would be a famous apostle who, according to tradition, would travel as far as Parthia and Armenia (in modern Iran) to spread the Gospel. One day he would write an account of the life of Jesus Christ. One day he would be a leader in the church in Jerusalem. But what does he do first?
He makes a feast – a reception – for all of his friends, and he invites Jesus to come as well. This is his first act of evangelism.
Levi is not yet a famous apostle. He doesn’t understand the Hebrew Scriptures yet, or recognize that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer. He still thinks in terms of a physical, Hebrew kingdom that will be instituted. In fact, as one of the hated tax-collectors hired by the Romans, he is considered an apostate from the Jewish religion, a traitor to the Jewish state, and a profligate man to the the Jewish community. He doesn’t understand that Jesus will one day be crucified. He probably doesn’t even understand yet that Jesus has a divine nature.
But he does seem to understand one thing – that Jesus is a teacher like no other, and that he, Levi, is now his disciple. He realizes that his old life is finished, and that his new life is submitted to God, to be a disciple under this Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth. That may be all that he knows at present, but it is enough for him to invite all his friends and acquaintances to come and see for themselves the change in his life, and to meet this wonderful individual, this Rabbi from Galilee.