Last night I asked a large group of friends to describe the best party they had ever attended. Eyes lit up as men told stories of great wedding receptions and even a yacht party on the open sea that lasted five days with all expenses paid. Well surprisingly, the best party Jesus ever attended on the earth was at a Tax Collector’s house. Soon after Jesus unshackled Matthew’s heart with the words, “Follow Me,” he made a great feast for Jesus in his house and invited a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. Nothing kept Matthew from following Christ and freely using his house and property to serve Christ seamlessly. As a brand new convert, Matthew’s first experience with evangelism was in the context of a great banquet reception with a huge spread of food and drink where he spared no expense to celebrate his Savior and introduce Christ to his friends.
Matthew’s guest list included his infamously disreputable co-workers, other non-categorized sinners, Jesus and the Apostles. (The Religiously Serious folks weren’t invited but loitered outside of the door to the house grumbling and criticizing.) Having experienced the irresistible, unparalleled, conquering love and acceptance of Jesus Matthew celebrates by hosting a party to introduce his co-workers and social friends to this Love. When your eyes were blind and you’re given sight; when you’ve been in shackles and you’ve been set free; when you’ve experienced the undeserved love, overwhelming compassion and tender mercy of Jesus, you can’t help but overflow to those around you. A life that welcomes sinners overflows into the desire to invite your non-religious friends to party with Jesus.