Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him.
Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”
When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Mark 2:13-17 NLT
This passage of scripture lays out the mission of Jesus—He came not for “the people who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Jesus illustrated His statement when He invited Levi to be His disciple. Levi, also known as Matthew, was a tax collector. His occupation meant he collected taxes from fellow Jews that went to the Roman occupiers of Israel. Jews considered him a traitor. He was not allowed in the Temple for worship. He was a social outcast.
Yet, Jesus saw in Levi a man who needed and desired to know God. Jesus invited Levi to be part of the twelve that He would use to transform the world one life at a time.
The religious people got upset that Jesus would associate with people like Levi. Yet, Jesus declared His intention in coming to earth was not for people who think they are good, but for those who know they need forgiveness.
If we are followers of Jesus, shouldn’t we be following Him to the lost and hurting? Shouldn’t part of our lives be wrapped up in building relationships with the hurting, broken, and rejected of life?
I grew up in a church where we were taught not to associate with sinners because we might get infected with their sin. (At least that was the way I interpreted what was preached.) I understand there is danger in having your closest friends be sinners—but how can we shine God’s light and love on people if we aren’t around them?
One problem I have as a pastor is I spend too much time with church people. I have to be intentional about spending time with those who are not yet followers of Christ. I pray daily for God to direct me to those around me who are hurting, broken, and in need of knowing His mercy and grace.
Holy Spirit, please open my eyes to those around me who need to know Your grace. Help me to be a channel for God’s grace to a broken world.
Scroll down to share what you feel God is saying to you based on today’s reading.