27 Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. 28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.
29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honour. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”
31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” (NLT)
I love Jesus’s response to the Pharisees here. Let’s read it again.
31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
Jesus calls those who know they are sinners and need to repent. How beautiful is that? Our Lord is filled with so much love, grace and mercy.
This passage always fills me with great hope. I know I am a sinner. Often, I don’t feel worthy to call myself a disciple of Jesus. I am constantly making mistakes, saying the wrong thing, and sinning. I don’t deserve to be a part of God’s kingdom.
Yet Jesus wants me.
Jesus still calls me. He brings me to repentance and offers me forgiveness. It is the most amazing gift I could possibly receive.
This passage is so significant because not only did Jesus spend time and have meals with known sinners and outcasts, but he invited one to be part of His inner circle of 12 disciples. Levi was a tax collector, and they were among the most despised people in that time. They were usually crooks that took extra money for themselves when collecting taxes. But Jesus wanted Levi to be with Him.
It’s clear Levi knew who Jesus was because he immediately closed his booth, left everything and followed Jesus. Then he celebrated his own salvation with a party inviting his ‘outcast’ friends to meet Jesus. And Jesus happily attended. He didn’t mind being among sinners and those society rejected. In fact, He preferred it that way.
It doesn’t matter what sins we have committed or what our past looks like. Jesus still wants us. He still calls us. And He offers us new life with Him. Life filled with love, mercy, joy, peace and hope. It is an honour to follow Him and learn from Him.
Jesus ministered to sinners, outcasts, the unwanted, the lost. He calls us to do the same.
As Christians it can become really easy to live a life that only includes other Christians. They are who we worship with, who we hang out with, who we serve. It’s comfortable and it’s safe.
But what about the broken, the lost, the scared, the sick? They are who we are called to disciple, just like Jesus did. How can we tell people about the gospel if we only interact with those who already believe? How do we make new disciples?
We have to get out of our comfort zone, remove ourselves from our safe place and walk into the messiness and brokenness. We need to be okay with challenges and difficulties. We need to be more like Jesus.