As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He *said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. (Mark 2:14)
Jesus, passing by sees Levi in his tax booth. The more I learn about Jesus the more I realize that Jesus did not just “see” people, He SAW people. Jesus really looked at them and acknowledged them, He often stopped and spoke to them. How many people do I pass in a day and literally just pass them? Do I take even a moment to SEE them as individuals? As people having goals, ambitions, possibly carrying heavy burdens of physical pain, grief, worry?
“I pray I would take time to give a friendly greeting, a warm smile to really look into their eyes. I ask you God to give me an opportunity to speak a word of encouragement, a word of blessing and not disgust or complaint. Oh God, I am sorry for just ignoring people, for thinking badly of them or, even worse, not thinking of them at all. Help me be more like Jesus, help me SEE a person, not an interruption or annoyance.”
And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, (Mark 2:15)
Things never just “happened” with Jesus! He was always intentional and purposeful in everything He did. His sole purpose and intention, daily was to do the will of His Father. How did He do this? There are several recorded instances where Jesus took time to be alone to pray, to speak to and seek God.
“Oh God, help me to follow Jesus example! He Himself was God yet He made time to be with you. I am an ordinary woman, if Jesus needed to pray, I need it much more!”
and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. (Mark 2:15)
Jesus did not discriminate! Tax collectors were the outcasts of the day. No one wanted to be with them! Associating with sinners made you a sinner too. Who wants to be with the crowd that everybody else avoids? Jesus!
“Oh Lord, forgive me for looking down on people for any reason. Help me not to avoid those who are different from me. Help me not to be judgmental, especially help me not to judge anyone on their outward appearance. Help me see them as you see them. Help me love them as you do.”
When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16)
I find it interesting that the scribes (pious Jews who strictly followed the religious laws) did not confront Jesus directly with their “concern”; they asked His disciples. The reality was that they were not really concerned about Jesus; they were more interested in catching Him breaking their laws. They were interested in punishment, not restoration. Their behavior is a good lesson for me…
“Jesus, I am so grateful for the Bible. Grateful that I can learn who you are, who God is and who I am as I read it. Help me remember what I read and apply it to my life. I don’t want to read it just to learn facts; I want it to change me from the inside out. Help me not to be a religious phony or pretender. Jesus, help me remember to come to you with everything, every question, every worry and help me come to you first!”
And hearing this, Jesus *said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
What a great answer! Jesus knew the real problem of the scribes; self-righteousness and pride. They believed that perfect obedience made them perfect; they saw themselves as healthy. Jesus knows we, they, are all UN-healthy; we are all sick, we are all sinners. Sadly for the scribes, they did not welcome Jesus; the tax collectors and sinners did. Jesus will only go where He is welcomed; He is a gentleman; He waits to be invited.
“Thank you, Jesus that you made me aware of my sickness. Thank you that I invited you into my heart. Help me to remember that I did invite you and asked you to be Lord of my life. Help me to truly surrender all of myself, all of my life, all of my mind to you – to hold nothing back. Thank you that I am made righteous because You made it so by paying the price for my sin. It is not about me; I could not have made this decision if you had not called me. It is always, only all about you, Jesus!”
“Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible by The Lockman Foundation.”