Read: Mark 2:13-17
When was the last time you had dinner with sinners? When have I intentionally invited those who are regarded as sinful, shunned by the church, into my home to share a meal? Seriously. Consider the text:
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 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 2:15-16
This is not a narrative about feeding the homeless, though that’s a good thing to do, instead we see Jesus rubbing shoulders with those who were rejected by the Pharisees, the proverbial well-to-do people in society, business leaders, those with disposable income, titles, prestige, and all the trappings of a successful earthly life.
Jesus, knowing He will only be walking on earth for 1,200 days (or so), chose to invest one evening with this group. I suspect it was way more than one occasion–probably a common occurrence.
My rough calculations suggest I’ve had over 12,000 dinners as an adult. I know that our concept of dinner is much different than that of 2,000 years ago, but still, how many of those were intentionally set with successful people outside of the church? Honestly, I wonder if I know how to make friends with someone outside of church because I spend so much time inside the church.
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 2:17
In our modern society it takes about 10 years to become a medical doctor. Imagine becoming a physician that avoids patients. In an instant the Spirit of God can fill a life, change a person for eternity, no need for 10 years of school! In that same instant we can reach out and share the love of Christ around a dinner table, a cup of coffee, or _____ (fill in the blank).
I’m personally challenged by these few verses because I’m sure this happened frequently for John Mark and the disciples. Jesus, friend of sinners, ate with those who were far from God, who were eternally sick, though physically fine.
Lord, open my eyes to those who are far from You, those who are ill, but don’t know it. Show me how to have a relationship with them that will change their lives for eternity–for their benefit and for your glory!