Many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.
Tax collectors in those days were often despised because they overcharged people and kept some of the tax money for themselves. As a result, many tax collectors grew rich at the expense of others. And if you associated with a tax collector, you would be at risk of being despised as well.
When Jesus was seen eating with the tax collector Levi and his associates, the local religious leaders asked Jesus’ disciples, “Why does Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners?” The question is clearly meant as a criticism of Jesus, but it can be a good question for us to wonder about. After all, was it wrong to be concerned that Jesus might be influenced by such corrupt people as tax collectors and the sinners they hung around with?
Well, maybe we need to think about this a different way. Can we assume that Jesus knew what he was doing? Can we believe that Jesus, the Son of God, loved Levi and wanted to become a part of his life and to show him what full life was about? Jesus makes clear that he is not afraid of being defiled by sin, and he is on task with “infecting” sinners with a call to discipleship! He also states that his purpose is to call sinners, so this is exactly where we should expect to see him!
Can you picture Jesus being interested and comfortable in coming to eat with you?
Dear Lord, thank you for coming into my life and meeting me where I live. And may I be glad to welcome you! Thank you for calling me to follow you. Amen.
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