JESUS LOVES SINNERS OVER SELF-RIGHTEOUS RELIGIOUS LEADERS
“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. 29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27—32)
Jesus went to where people were and shared the kingdom of God with them. He called them. Levi, the tax collector, was NOT looking for Jesus. He was living his life and earning a living. He was doing a job that people in his community hated him for. He worked for the government that suppressed its people and overcharged them with their taxes. The Pharisees and teachers of the law are no better. They, too, buried people with laws they would not lift as much as a finger to help people.
Yet Jesus did not go to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, for they are the ones who are supposed to know the truth of God and live by it. However, they were the greatest lawbreakers themselves. They tell people how to live, yet they do not live it. They have a rule for thee, but not for me. But Jesus chose a tax collector whom the elitist religious leaders condemned.
The Pharisees didn’t like Jesus’ choice of companions because they had no heart for those who needed help. They condemned tax collectors. Levi heard the call, FOLLOW ME, AND HE GOT UP AND LEFT EVERYTHING. This is a remarkable thing Levi did. He HEARD THE CALL, HE GOT UP, AND HE LEFT EVERYTHING. Levi decided on the spot. I wonder how many modern-day believers will RISK IT ALL like Levi to follow Jesus the way he did.
Not only He heard the call, get up, and leave everything, HE HELD A BANQUET FOR JESUS and invited all his tax collectors’ friends to have a celebration. It was probably the first time Levi ever felt for the first time someone would be interested in him and stop and invite him to FOLLOW. He probably thought, why would someone be interested in him enough to STOP by his booth and invite him? Since Levi was despised by his community and their leaders, it was a breath of fresh air to be considered, thought of and asked about.
Jesus is for those who are condemned and outcasts. His answer to the Pharisee’s questions, WHY DO YOU EAT AND DRING WITH TAX COLLECTORS AND SINNERS, was a fantastic revelation of the heart Jesus has for those who have been marginalized by sin and society. Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were blinded by their self-righteousness and didn’t think they were doing well before Jesus. NONE is righteous, no, not one. Jesus loves Levi; he called him, acted upon the calling, changed his ways, and repented. The most brutal sin a sinner faces is their rejection of their condition; unless we admit that we are sinners and need a change, we will never be changed. Everyone who hears Jesus’ call to follow him and act upon that call will not be disappointed. Following Jesus is not just a belief; it is a life-changed lifestyle. It is a life that is marked with repentance and action.
I am sometimes like the Pharisees with a self-righteous attitude. I need a heart of compassion like Jesus. Today’s word compels me to live in humility and be a person who does not look down on others. I want to make repentance a lifestyle that admits sinful behavior and deals with it in Jesus’ way. I want to live with a compassionate heart like Jesus toward those marginalized by sin as I am. I repent of my self-righteous attitude toward others today and desire to do it daily.
Jesus, forgive me for times that I misbehave and think I am better than others. I ask that your compassionate heart be mine. I ask that you teach me how to value people marginalized by sin and love them as you do. Remove from me a judgmental spirit and eyes that always look at others and judge them. Please teach me how to repent daily and live in a compassionate manner and humility. I need you, Lord, daily, Amen!