27 After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named [a]Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” 28 And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.
29 And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and [b]sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
I love how Jesus answers them. As always, he is paying attention to timing. For the moment, he simply says it is the sick that need a doctor, not the well, and he's come to call the sinners to repentance. He doesn't specify that all people are sinners. He doesn't go into the legalistic, self-righteous ways that the Pharisees themselves are just as "sick" and in need of the doctor. He gets to all of that during the course of his ministry, but for now, simply and to the point, he says he's come for the sinners.
Out of all the people in the world, he is the only one who could be considered better than anyone else, being without sin, and yet he was the first one to go looking for the kind of people with whom "religious" people wanted no association. It is very important to spend time with other believers to strengthen and encourage each other, but it is wrong to not reach out to those around us who do not believe. We are called on to be the hands of feet of Jesus to everyone around us. Our pastor is fond of saying that we may be the only "Jesus" some people ever see. Jesus would never have spent all his time only with those who believed what he did, or those who lived in a certain neighbourhood (or the right side of the tracks, if you will), or were a certain class of people.
People are just people. We all give in to temptation or make bad choices. So my lack of self-control or my poor choices haven't landed me in jail or caused me to have to declare bankruptcy or have my children taken to foster care. According to the world's standards or society's standards, I may not be doing too badly. But we're called on to live according to God's standards. God's Word tells me that we are all sinners but also that Jesus came for everybody. The rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, the young and the old, the wise and the simple, regardless of race or station. If Jesus reaches out to each person as they come, how can we not do the same?
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 5:33-39.
One point I heard in a sermon, can't remember which one, was that Jesus could see Levi's heart. He could see that he was repentant and was looking for the Saviour. How do we know? Because when Jesus called him, he came. He followed. He left it all behind. ALL! Leaving a tax collector job? You can't get that back. Ever. Tremendous faith!
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