“And Levi made him a great feast in his house. (And) There was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. (And) The Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his (Jesus’) disciples saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” (And) Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:29-32)
The stories concerning Jesus, the disciples, and the people of the area are important to read and review. There is not only information to think about on the surface but there is information to think about underneath the situation and maybe even reading into possible attitudes. Illumination happens with the most obscure stories at times….
Why do I read the stories? They are a mirror into my heart as well.
In this particular passage, let’s face it: I read about others. I read about uppity Pharisees, I read about sinners, drinkers, and all sorts of folks Jesus hangs out with. What I don’t usually read about is me and where I fit into this equation? I don’t first consider the “man in the mirror” when I read.
Let’s look at the Pharisee and Scribe’s question: “Why do you hang out with these obvious sinners?” The implication is plain: How much of a Christian can you be if you are doing (this)?
I have gotten that comment enough over the years: “How can you call yourself a Christian and (do this) or (think that) or support (that guy) or, or, or….”
This is exactly the question and implication the Pharisees are attempting to put on Jesus and the disciples.
I can (and have) received similar comments over the years and what do they make me do? I either retreat back, doubting my “witness” and obedience or I barrel ahead in brash and contentious argument. Why? Because I don’t know and didn’t remember the Gospel.
Looking at the “man in the mirror” I acknowledge and am glad that Jesus came to deal with the sick like me. I need redemption that I don’t deserve. It is the difference between Justification and Sanctification. I am justified in Christ by faith. (Ga 2:16) I am being conformed in the Image of the Son. (Ro 8:29) In one the work is finished by Faith; in the other the work of sanctification is still going on (also by Faith but that is something else for later).
Because of the Gospel I have to be aware that I don’t succumb to the attitude of the Pharisees and put some sort of artificial (and unbiblical) speed bumps in the way. I am sick, they are sick, we are sick: We all need salvation and redemption that is only found in our Lord, Jesus the Christ of God.
Father, once more another story about my tendency of looking down my nose at folks appears. Why is it that I (and probably others) have issues with this practice? Work in me to flush this attitude and replace it with love and truth. Help me to remember the Gospel and that, while I have been set free of Sin, I still encounter it in my flesh just like other people do. Help me to see around me with Mercy and Grace, speaking with conviction but not condemnation. Make me able to say: “Follow me as I follow Christ” and walk resolutely on the narrow road of righteousness, “walking and leaping and praising God!” (Acts 3:8-9) AMEN.