March 16, 2016

A Friend of Sinners

Mark 2:13-17

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

—  Mark 2:17

It’s interesting to think about the people Jesus would spend time with if he lived physically among us today. Would he hang out with saints or sinners? Jesus surely would not have neglected either group, but it’s clear that he came for people who were spiritually desperate.

Levi (also known as Matthew) was that sort of man. He was a tax collector for the enemy Roman government. Like other tax collectors, he may also have been corrupt, growing rich by charging excessive taxes and pocketing the extra change. He was the kind of person that hardworking, respectable people didn’t like. Most would have thought he had no chance with God. Yet, he was someone whom Jesus went after in his grace. Levi was just the kind of person Jesus came to save.

Jesus’ words remind us that there’s no one his love cannot reach. He didn’t come “to call the righteous, but sinners.” He came to share God’s love with people who were spiritually sick and unsavory. He came for each of us, no matter our sin. And he has called us to follow him.

Jesus also calls us to reach out with his love. Are you building relationships with people in need of Christ, or only with ­other believers? Are our ­churches like hospitals where the sick and messy can find healing and mercy? May we be a friend to sinners, just as Jesus was.

Lord Jesus, thank you for rescuing the broken with your grace. May we be as loving and compassionate as you are. In your name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Tom Groelsema

Tom Groelsema and his wife, Sheri, have served churches in Minnesota, Michigan, and North Carolina. They have four children and three granddaughters.

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