7 – Friend of Sinners
He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
- Tax booth: A place where the people payed their taxes
- Tax collectors: People who collected taxes for the Romans
- Pharisees: Jewish religious leaders
- Physician: A doctor
If you could be friends with anyone in the world, what sort of person would you chose?
Looking at yourself, would you say that you are a strong person or a weak person, healthy or sick, a sinner or a righteous person?
Has anyone ever asked you the question, ‘If you were able to have a meal with any three people, who would they be?’ How would you answer that question? One of the things that might strike us as strange is the type of people that Jesus chose to eat and to spend time with. Surely we would expect God’s Son, the King of the world, to be in the company of the celebrities of the time and to share meals with important people. But no. Previously we have seen Jesus call fishermen to become his followers. Now he goes a step further and calls Levi, the tax collector, to become a disciple. Tax collectors were regarded as some of the worst people in society. They were working for the Romans, who ruled Israel at the time, and who often cheated and took too much money from their own people.
Because they were so unpopular, we are not surprised to see that the Pharisees reaction was to look down on the type of people that Jesus called friends. But the attitude of Jesus is completely different and his response to the Pharisees is completely clear. He tells them that if they deceive themselves by thinking they are perfect, then they will never realise that they need help. People who think they are healthy do not go to see the doctor. The problem with the Pharisees was they did not realise that they had a problem, and therefore they did not see that they needed someone to save them.
Jesus calls to himself the sort of people who know very well that they are dirty, weak, sinful and that they need Jesus to save them. They are people who have realised they are sick, that they cannot heal themselves, and that Jesus is the doctor who is able to make them well.
In what ways are we able to deceive ourselves about the type of person we are?
Why do you think so many of this sort of people follow Jesus?
for help not to look down your nose at other people, but to realise that before God everyone is dirty and needs to be washed clean by him.