Spirituality Joseph D'Emanuele  

The Banquet at Levi’s House

The first meal-type scene identified by Okorie is Jesus’ banquet at Levi’s house.

Paolo Veronese The Feast in the House of Levi – Oil on canvas of Venetian Mannerism, loggia, serliana, classic Palladian-sanmichelina renaissance architecture, night, Corinthian order, bas-reliefs (Remix by Paolo Villa) (Public Domain)

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax-collection station, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “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


The Banquet at Levi’s House is a significant event in the Gospel of Luke. It is an example of Jesus’ mission to call sinners to repentance and to share the good news of the kingdom of God. The banquet is also an example of how meals can be used to build relationships and to bring people together.

The banquet at Levi’s house is a powerful reminder that Jesus came to call sinners to repentance. In Romans 3:10, it is written, “No one is righteous, not even one.” This means that Jesus came to call all of us to repent and to turn away from our sins. The banquet at Levi’s house is a reminder that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace and mercy.

The banquet at Levi’s house is also an example of how meals can be used to build relationships and to bring people together. When people gather at the table, they declare an invitation to move from being strangers to friends. In the book of Luke, we often find Jesus at the table with the very people who questioned whether they could be Jesus’ friend – sinners, tax collectors, low social status, pompous religious leaders, and people of questionable reputation. It is from these unlikely individuals that Jesus transformed lives and built his community of believers.

The transition of Levi’s from the rigid structure of the tax table to the inviting and celebratory atmosphere of Levi’s banquet can be seen as a spiritual metaphor—an allegory for a personal journey from a life bound by limitations and regulations to a more expansive, inclusive, and spiritually fulfilling existence.

The tax table represents a world of rules, boundaries, and regulations—a place where one’s life might be confined by societal expectations, material pursuits, and the pursuit of wealth or success as defined by external parameters. This setting may reflect a life focused on quantifiable achievements, where the metrics of success are tangible and often revolve around wealth, power, or societal status.

In contrast, Levi’s banquet symbolizes a place of spiritual abundance and liberation. It’s an environment that embraces diversity, joy, and connection. This move represents a shift from a life driven by material gains to one enriched by experiences, shared moments, and a deeper connection with oneself and others.

This episode from Jesus’ life invites us to embark on a self-discovery journey and for a deeper understanding of the true essence of life. It’s an awakening to the abundance of the present moment, the interconnectedness of all beings, and the recognition that true fulfillment comes not from external possessions or achievements but from an inner sense of contentment, compassion, and love.

The following are some questions for personal reflection:

  • What needs to change for your life to be more “on mission” for Jesus?
  • Is there someone you can pray for?
  • How often do you share a meal with family or friends?
  • Which tax table should I move away from?
  • What do Psalm 23:5 and Song of Songs 2:4 say is demonstrated to us at God’s table?
  • How can you extend an invitation to all who recognize their need for a savior to join you at God’s table?
  • What is the illness that is hindering me to be more Christ-like that I need to ask Jesus to heal me from?

Additional resources

Although Jesus didn’t come to invite the righteous to repent, Banquet …. https://www.newlifepismo.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2019-03-10.questions2.pdf.

Levi’s House: Hanging with a Bad Crowd | Keep Believing Ministries. https://www.keepbelieving.com/levis-house-hanging-with-a-bad-crowd-2/.

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