13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Pharisees looked down on Jesus for eating with Levi (whom we also know as Matthew) the tax collector and his friends, who were not highly respected members of society. Did Jesus not know who these people were? Did he not realize how his reputation could suffer being seen in their company?
Now fast forward a few thousand years to see a congregation gathered in worship. These are good people, but would they be comfortable spending time with fringe elements of society – drug users, street walkers, homeless people, petty thieves and the like?
Any one of us needs the healing touch of Jesus the master Physician, even if our faults may be less obvious than others. But it’s hard to imagine us spending time, or sharing a meal, with those whom society has written off as lesser than others. People back then didn’t understand Jesus, and maybe we too struggle with his actions, even if we believe in his words. Lord, help me receive what is hard for me to understand.
Gracious God, forgive me when I put a value on people according to what I see, rather than what is going on within their hearts. I hesitate to go outside of my comfort zone, but then I may miss someone you would want me to reach. Give me new eyes to see others as Jesus did, and like him to want to reach out with compassion and care. Amen.