Wednesday 13th January
St Mark 2: 13 – 17
Jesus went out again beside the lake; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax-collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax-collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
The Pharisees assumed that if a person ate with sinners, they were a sinner, too. Levi worked for the Roman government and was a tax collector. Tax collectors were renowned for their dishonesty. Naturally, since Jesus and his disciples ate with such people, they were classed as sinners too.
Assumptions prevented people from seeing what was really going on. God was not interested in appearances but hearts. Jesus was coming into contact with sinners. But instead of the sinners making him unclean, he made them clean. The grace of God ministered through Jesus Christ isn’t limited to righteous people. It extends to sinners, even to the kind of sinners that disturb righteous people.
Jesus found out what the Pharisees were asking and answered the question himself. He told them that healthy people have no need of a physician, but rather those who have an illness. Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Pharisees made a foolish assumption. They assumed that they were “healthy people,” having no need of a physician. They assumed that they were righteous so Jesus’ call to sinners did not apply to them. They had found righteousness in their diligent faithfulness to do everything they believed God had required of his people.
Jesus said “Follow me,” and Levi got up and followed him. Levi found righteousness in the Son of God. He saw with his own eyes what the accusing Pharisees also saw but could not recognize. He saw what Paul described in his letter to the Romans: “In the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17).
Levi made no assumptions. He saw, he listened, and he believed. He trusted the One sent from God because he trusted God. May we, too, listen and believe and then live by faith, and not by assumptions?
Dear God, create in us an awareness of our need matched only by an awareness of your acceptance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.