27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
When I think of Jesus being compassionate and inclusive, my mind goes to the poor, refugees, the sick and the disabled, and to women – especially widows. In the culture of the time, all these people would be doing it tough and would be marginalised in society. My mind approves of my saviour and Lord having compassion on such people.
This story is also about someone marginalised – but in this case, it is someone whom society then loved to hate and who would probably be similarly unpopular in our own society. Calling Levi is equivalent to Jesus calling a rich tax cheat today.
A common narrative in our society demonises very wealthy people who exploit the tax system to their advantage. We feel justified in putting them down when the ‘Mums and Dads’ in our world are paying their taxes and struggling to make ends meet. Faced with a notorious tax cheat, in the company of his tax cheat friends, sumptuously entertaining Jesus, most people today would probably cheer these Pharisees on and complain bitterly with them.
But Jesus loves everyone. He wants everyone to be saved. He didn’t come for us to feel self-justified. He didn’t come to affirm our biases. He came to “those who know they are sinners and need to repent”, no matter who they are or what they have done. As always, Jesus is looking at our hearts.
Lord, I bring my heart before you again today and ask that you cleanse and change it. Thank you for forgiving my sin and accepting me as your disciple. Help me to see where I have biases and submit those to you. Help me to love others like you love them. Thank you for every single person who repents and is saved. Amen
Written by Megan Cornell