Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Today's Bible reading: Luke 5:27-32

It’s no wonder that Jesus raised the eyebrows of the rabbis in calling the likes of a tax collector - Levi (who came to be known as Matthew) - to be His disciple.  These tax officials were basically loathed by the Jews as a whole.  They were seen as traitors … sell-outs to the Roman government, because they had bought the right to collect taxes from their own people, and thus gouge and fleece them … and make sure that they made a handsome profit at their expense.

Jesus not only had a sinner as a disciple … He even consented to dine with Levi and his friends.  This isn’t a small detail for us to just gloss over, actually.  This is a big deal!  Why?  Because for the Jews, every meal implied religious fellowship.  In eating with such “sinners” Jesus was expressing His solidarity with them – which is really the same solidarity He expresses with us every time we partake of His Holy Meal … and join Him at His Holy Supper.  Of course, by dining with sinners, He was not condoning their sin.  What He was doing was asserting that God loved them as just as much as the so-called “righteous” people.  In fact, His mission was to heal the sick.  And if the sinners were honest enough to recognize their “sickness”, why should the healthy begin to complain that they’re coming to Jesus to be healed?  Perhaps those who thought they were well also needed healing!

Prayer: Loving heavenly Father, our Good Shepherd, make us faithful, and bless our every effort to enlarge your flock.  We thank you for having made us your followers.  Help us to carry out Your mission as Your representatives, to be the ministers and missionaries You have called us to be; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.