If you’re ever invited to a dinner party, or a wedding reception, or some other gathering, do you spend time before wondering who else might be there? Will there be old friends to catch up with, new people to make friends with? Will you be surprised by some of the guests…?
How surprised the legal experts were to turn up to a house and find Jesus,
Sitting at home with tax collectors and sinners
(Tom Wright, p 8)
13 Jesus went back again to the shore of Lake Galilee. A crowd came to him, and he started teaching them.14 As he walked along, he saw a tax collector, Levi son of Alphaeus, sitting in his office. Jesus said to him,
Follow me. Levi got up and followed him.
15 Later on Jesus was having a meal in Levi’s house. A large number of tax collectors and other outcasts was following Jesus, and many of them joined him and his disciples at the table.16 Some teachers of the Law, who were Pharisees, saw that Jesus was eating with these outcasts and tax collectors, so they asked his disciples,
Why does he eat with such people?
17 Jesus heard them and answered,
People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.
What are they doing here? Who invited them? What is he doing mixing with that sort?
But remember, “It’s time for a change“, Jesus has come to do, not what expected of him, but what God needed of him. He’s not come to those whose lives are already sorted out – what would be the point in that? He’s come to those who need to know the new way of living, the freedom from ties of the past, that God offers.
Jesus comes speaking for God (p 9), and doing it in a new way – the way God had always promised.
If the world was already in a good state, people were living as they should, there would have been no need for Jesus to come. But it wasn’t, so he had to come to show how it should be – and that included all people. Jesus was not bothered by where people had been, what they had done – his interest was in what they could be – in and through God.
These were people who had been shunned, Jesus was “determined to treat them differently” (p 10) – and thank God for that, He was not encouraging their lifestyle, but showing them another way, offering them healing and new life from what they had become.
So, this leaves two points:
- how quick are we sometimes to judge who should and shouldn’t be “in”? Are there people we believe are “beyond the pale” and have no place in the kingdom of faith? Would Jesus reject them or accept them?
- If you are left with a feeling that you are not good enough, for God, for faith, for a new start – that’s not so. God welcomes all-comers to come and sit at home with him. You can receive his love, his forgiveness, his hope, his healing and a new life.
That includes you and me – will you?
that there are things I have got wrong,
actions I am not proud of,
ways I have gone that have not been your ways.
Thank you that you still invite me to follow you.
I come Lord,
wanting to learn your ways,
and give myself to you.
May I never turn up my nose
at others you have invited too,
but may we journey together in support and learning,
and in your love, forgiveness and hope