a wonderful day for a dinner party.
“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw Him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked His disciples: ‘Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?’” Mark 2:16 NIV
Much like today, a tax collector in the time of Christ was disliked. In Jesus’ time, there was rampant corruption among them making them even easier to despise. Levi, who became Matthew, was called by Jesus to follow Him and went on to write the first of the four Gospels covering the teachings of Jesus Christ.
When he was first called by Jesus, Matthew (then called Levi) got up from his tax collector’s booth and joined Him. Later, he invited Jesus and the other disciples to a dinner party at his house. In addition to Jesus, the disciples, and Levi, there were many of the friends of Levi who were tax collectors as well as others simply classified as ‘sinners.’
The teachers of religious law thought it odd that the man everyone was saying was the Messiah would sit down and eat with such people. Apparently their idea of a ‘savior’ and a ‘king’ was quite different from the truth. By their thinking, Christ should avoid “riff-raff” and only associate with those who comprised the upper echelon of society in that day. An ancient ‘A’ list, if you will. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” (Mark 9:17 NIV).
Jesus came to offer us salvation. To show us how to establish a relationship with God that would help us to live our short time on earth in a manner that reflected God’s loving and benevolent character. He came to lead us from the darkness of our lives into the light of service to others and to God. He came to sacrifice His life for our sins so that we could all have the opportunity for a renewed and restored relationship with God that will lead us to His promise of everlasting life.
He came to fix those who were broken, not to socialize with those who thought they were above the need for His help. He came to demonstrate His love for all of God’s children, not just for those who felt they were special.
There is an extremely valuable lesson to be learned from the story of that dinner party. It shows the Messiah to be a truly humble, loving, and compassionate man who loves everyone, not just those who think they are special. He wants us all to treat each other as He treated those He ate with. We should all keep these lessons in mind the next time we have people over for dinner.
Reach out to those who know they need it, not to those who think they deserve it.
Taken from “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”, (C) 2013 Tony Casson