Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:15-17
Ever been to a dinner party where there was ‘lively’ conversation? Maybe the topics got into those ‘no no’ areas of discussion like politics, religion, and deflategate. Okay, maybe not the last one, but since I am not a Patriots fan, I had to throw that in there!!! I think this must have been one of those hot topic dinner parties. Its Jesus, His disciples/friends and then, not just one or two scroungy sinners, but many tax collectors and sinners. The tax collectors ripped off everybody so nobody liked them or certainly wanted to have dinner with them and the sinners, well that greek word means they were devoted to sin, ‘specifically of men stained with certain definite vices or crimes’. These were serious sinners, yes even worse than an NFL team deflating their footballs to gain an advantage! Sorry Patriot fans! These were the ones no one believed would ever change. And yet, somehow they not only felt comfortable enough to hang with Jesus for dinner, but, did you catch this in verse 1, they followed Him. Why? Because He had rock star status and they wanted a piece of the fame?? I don’t think so. I believe He obviously shared the words of life, living water and truth with these guys who were spiritually thirsty and drawn to those words, along with His attributes of love and compassion. He didn’t condone what they did, but He cared for their souls and gave them a glimpse of real love. The religious Pharisees of course freak out and can’t believe that Jesus is eating with them because all they see are sinners, not men who need a savior. Who are you in this story? Are you willing to be like Jesus and love on those sinners who seem to be eternally lost or do you pull a Pharisee and immediately judge? Most of us only have to look back at our pre Jesus days to remember where we were spiritually. I am very glad that I had a friend who didn’t care about my reputation or that I had just invited him to have a few free drinks at the bar that I was an investor in. No, they were willing to hang with me, and take me to church, no matter how bad it was. Man, I am glad. That day changed my life because I got to hear Jesus’ truth be spoken. The old saying goes, ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’. Jesus never judged by what He saw on the outside of man. He only saw men who could be transformed by His truth and power. Maybe its time for the church, His followers, us, to do the same.