Holy God, as I come before You today, cause me to listen deeply, ponder thoughtfully, and surrender wholeheartedly to You.
Read Mark 2:13-17
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Humankind has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness, answered at Calvary. The other is for goodness, answered at Pentecost” (Billy Graham).
When the nineteenth-century evangelist D.L. Moody was leaving America to tour Britain, a pious lady asked him, “Are you going to preach to the miserable poor, Mr. Moody?” Moody replied, “Yes, and to the miserable rich!” Jesus surprises us! We are familiar with the idea that Jesus reached out to the poor and marginalized, the blind, the lame and those with leprosy. But Levi was not poor and marginalized. He had an income, a position and colleagues. He may have been unpopular and unpatriotic, but he was hardly an outcast. Yet Jesus called him, and the initiative lay with Jesus. He did not wait for the man to come to him crying, “What must I do?” As with the paralytic in yesterday’s reading, he made Levi an offer he had never dreamed of, but would be mad to refuse. It was an offer without strings. There is no suggestion that Levi was asked to repay his ill-gotten gains or offer a sacrifice to atone for his sins. No doubt those who joined Jesus’ fellowship went on to lead better lives, but Jesus never made that a condition of sitting at his table.
The reality of God’s forgiveness was made plain by the meal they all shared. Mark’s words suggest a feast or celebratory meal, a familiar symbol for the coming kingdom of God. No wonder the Pharisees were shocked. Jesus was opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers, irrespective of what they had done and without preconditions. Eating together had significance in Jesus’ world that it has largely lost in ours. “Sharing a meal was an offer of peace, trust, brotherhood and forgiveness” (J. Jeremias). As such, it was not lightly entered into. The Lord’s Table still makes this offer and makes it as widely as did Jesus.
The Lord’s table is for sinners and encourages self-examination and repentance. How do you prepare for it? How does your church welcome sinners?
Lord, I marvel at Your amazing grace. May I be an instrument of that grace, blessing those who cross my path today.
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