“Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.””
Mark 2:13-17 NKJV
Many of us, myself included, have occasional bouts with self righteousness that causes us to compare ourselves to others. We look upon the lives of those we deem beneath us, and seek to elevate our own selves, that we stand in out contrast.
In reality we are every bit as sinful as anyone else. The of us who are followers of Jesus have forgotten that we too were once sick with sin, needing to be made well.
The Lord has reminded me that I am a sinner who deserved judgement in hell, no more worthy than anyone else, for it was not worthiness that brought salvation, but His grace. It took increased contact with Holy God to see just how sinful I really was, for my sins stood out starkly against the glory of God.
With each passing day and as I draw ever closer to one day seeing Him face to face, a marvel all the more at His Amazing Grace.
Jesus was observed eating with tax collectors and sinners. The tax collectors were the lowest of low, for they placed heavy burdens on the people, as they collected taxes for the occupying Romans, and added to the top for themselves. But here was Jesus, eating and breaking bread.
The religious elites of the day, the Pharisees, confronted Him, for in their minds, Jesus had placed Himself at the level of those who are sinners. Jesus’ response to those who charged Him confirmed His purpose, but also served as an indictment of those authorities, for they thought themselves righteous and were not.
The Pharisees were all about self righteousness, not needing to repent, comparing themselves to others. They had long forsaken the view of God:
“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.”
Isaiah 64:6 NKJV
“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.””
Luke 18:9-14 NKJV
It is in the recognition that one is a sinner that salvation can come. So many of us came to know the Lord when we were at our lowest point, when we were broken, mourning over our sinfulness. It is in that broken state that we could respond to the wooing of a loving Savior, drawing us by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, offering salvation and escape from eternity in hell.
““Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:3-4 NKJV
“As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;”
Romans 3:10 NKJV
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Romans 3:23 NKJV
We needed a Savior and we were broken by our sin. Just as we came to know the Lord from a point of brokenness, it is with the same perspective that we continually seek after Christ, being reminded of our previous sinful state, and being mindful that the holiness we have is only in Jesus.
In light of this, it is important for us to remember that most of the people we encounter are not followers of Jesus, and do not have the benefit of having received His grace. In truth, sinners are going to sin. Just as Jesus sat and ate with sinners, let us be purposeful to be humane with those who have not yet tasted salvation, being conscious that the Lord may be working in them.
Let us be guided by the love of God, applying it to all interactions.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
I Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, let us not be Pharisees, looking upon those who do not seem to be righteous as unworthy of humanity, but as people the Lord Jesus came to save. All too often we Christians allow ourselves to fall into the world traps of politics and cultural warfare. Ensnared, we cease to see people, but only adversaries.
In one meal, the Lord Jesus established avenues to faith that the Pharisees had never bothered to cultivate, though they had lifted themselves up as emissaries of the Most Hight God.
My people, we have been called to faith in Jesus, and because we are born again, we have the Holy Spirit, God in Us, to guide us. Let us be ones who go out into this word as God’s medics, seeking the sick who are need of a physician.
We are living in a world that is filled with pain, and many of the people who are suffering greatly show that inner pain, by demonstrating outer behaviors that scream for attention and often offend.
Rather than mocking, may they be met with blood bought followers of Jesus bringing the message of the Gospel, as holy ones walking in the Spirit, and demonstration an abundance of fruit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. “
Galatians 5:22 NKJV
These things set us in stark contrast to this world, and provide a beacon, not unlike the emergency sign of a hospital, for those who are sick and want to made well.
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