Father, You are the source of my hope and the giver of grace. I surrender anew my life to You.
Read Mark 2:13–17
Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
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ReflectJesus invites all to join His banquet; how have you responded to His invitation?
As I write this, Britain is in turmoil over Brexit. Some people want Britain to be free from the European Union, whom they see as imposing power from outside. Imagine what it must have felt like in Judea in Jesus’ day; the occupying Roman Empire made all the rules, delegating only limited power to local authorities. Some people cooperated with the Romans, such as those who collected taxes for them (while keeping plenty for themselves) (14).
Tax collectors and ‘sinners’ (anyone who did not scrupulously observe all the rituals of religion) were considered beyond-the-pale by the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees (15,16). Why would Jesus call one of them to follow Him and, even, enjoy their company?! A similar criticism prompts the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son (Luke 15).
Jesus’ preaching and teaching go beyond words. Sharing a meal with someone is a powerful demonstration that you accept them. There was something about Jesus which attracted those whom the religious establishment rejected (14,15). How welcoming is your church to the outsider? Do we offer Jesus’ welcome to the ‘spiritually sick’ (17)?
How can you show God’s love and acceptance to those who some look down upon?
Forgive me, Lord, when my faith is smug, cozy, and selfish. Pull me out of my self-centeredness and use me as a witness and to serve.
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