Jesus Calls Levi & Eats with Sinners

Jesus Calls Levi and Eats with Sinners

Mark 2:13-17

 by Patrick Griffey

In a continuation of last week’s devotional, we look at another episode where Jesus and the Pharisees are at odds. This passage includes a lot of interesting tidbits beginning with the heading of “Jesus Calls Levi and Eats with Sinners.” That makes me chuckle because anytime Jesus eats in the presence of others, He is eating with sinners …but that is relevant to His message here.

We begin with Jesus calling Levi, who is a tax collector. That may not seem like a big deal but we’re clued in on why that matters when we read “tax collectors AND sinners” three different times within this short passage. These two groups of people were not separated because the tax collectors were better than the sinners, they were separated because tax collectors were considered the worst of the worst. Jesus calling someone that is considered the worst of the worst was revolutionary and certainly rubbed the Pharisees the wrong way. How many of us struggle with stereotyping when someone doesn’t fit the mold of what we expect in a position of leadership? Jesus cultivated a diverse group of disciples and this caused concern for the Pharisees because they could not see past Levi being a tax collector in order to consider him a beneficial part of the Kingdom of God. Carolyn is in the midst of a Bible Study on the spiritual gifts and that is an incredible reminder of the diversity of the Body of Christ. We are all gifted with different abilities and no one single person checks every box or fits the mold of what a Christian should “look like.” What Jesus is focusing on here is the heart and that’s where the second part of the passage leads us.

The Pharisees cannot get over Jesus spending time in the midst of tax collectors and sinners, because the Pharisees considered themselves so much better than these lowly people. Jesus hits them back by saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have no come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Mark 2:17)” Jesus speaks often in parables and let me just say, He nails them. This is such a good parallel to our walk with Christ. John the Baptist begins the Gospel of Mark by telling the people that they must get right with the Lord but in order to do this, they have to acknowledge the sin holding them back from entering into that relationship. Jesus further emphasizes that here when He talks in the metaphor of someone with a doctor. When you are sick, going to the doctor does not make you well. It is not enough to just go to the doctor’s office and sit there for an hour and then leave. Even if you go back to see the doctor and then refuse the physician’s advice or do not take the prescribed medicine, you are probably not going to get any better. Is that the doctor’s fault? The doctor made a clear plan to get you well and you refused to follow his plan! Now look at the doctor’s office as the church. Is it enough to show up on Sunday mornings and just sit in the pew while you think about what you’re going to eat for lunch or what happened with the Clemson game last night? My wife has often said that going to church makes you as much of a Christian as sitting in a garage makes you a car. Is it enough to listen to the Word of God and then do nothing with it? Of course not! The Lord has provided us with the medicine to our sickness, what are you doing about it?