13 Once again Jesus went out beside the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd came to him. He began to teach them. 14 As he walked along he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus. Levi was sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him. Levi got up and followed him. 15 Later Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house. Many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples. They were part of the large crowd following Jesus. 16 Some teachers of the law who were Pharisees were there. They saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors. So they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 Jesus heard that. So he said to them, “Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor. Sick people do. I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to follow me.”
I love how Jesus has dinner with notorious people, that He was comfortable in their presence.
It’s easy to label people, it’s harder to transform people. To bring about transformation you have to be ‘with’ them, you have to engage with them in their world without imbibing that world.
Jesus’ answered the criticism going to the heart of the matter. He was being obedient to be a kind of doctor. There’s no point in the doctor only keeping company with healthy people. The doctor must associate with the sick. Jesus’ whole ministry was to bring health, not just to the physically sick, but to the world as a whole. That upset a lot of people who preferred to label people as ‘outcasts’ and ignore them from then on.
How easy is it for me to be with people who don’t hold my beliefs, who don’t hold my convictions and yet truly love them! I hear Jesus calling me to engage, to love, to ‘incarnate’ Him among those I have the privilege to do life with in Jesus’ Name.
Father, help me never to judge those who are different from me based on their beliefs or any other thing!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta