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.
Mark 2:15 (NIV)
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?”
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.”
Mark 2:16-17 (NIV)
Our verses today show a group of people highly critical of our Lord. Jesus was hanging out with “sinners”. These people the Jews hated so much were Jews who collected taxes for the Roman authorities. The critical people believed themselves to be devout, holy, and well above the level of the individuals Jesus associated with.
Sadly, they did not recognize that Jesus had not come to spend His time with people who had a high opinion of themselves. Rather He had come for those who knew themselves to be sinners—in God’s sight—and who desired to change and be different. Jesus had a heart for people in pain—people who were struggling with life and its temptations. He desired to deliver or “cure” those who were “sick” with sin.
Jesus was not afraid of scandal as long as He could connect with those others scorned. Never exclude yourself from the circle of Jesus’ disciples (the church) because of previous bad behaviour.
Those who are part of a true Christian Church know that they are not deserving of Jesus’ time and effort any more than you are. They recognize themselves as sinners and welcome repentant sinners into their church. In fact they welcome sinners who have not yet repented.
Go to church this week and get God’s welcome and the welcome of His people. They are waiting—do not delay.