Jesus and the Outcasts

Tony Vis

READ : Luke 5:27-32

Tax collectors were less popular in the first century than they are in the twentieth. They were despised because they were Israelites working for the Romans. Levi was considered a traitor by his countrymen. Jesus knows the man is a crook and a scoundrel. Jesus knows that if He speaks a cordial word to Levi, the piously religious will be in an uproar. Jesus speaks to him anyway, saying, “Follow me.”

Next, Jesus accepts an invitation to the home of Levi where a banquet is in progress. Can you catch the humor in this story? Jesus isn’t content with “rocking-the-boat” by associating with one sinner; He sinks the ship when He parties with a whole bunch of social outcasts.

Here is a typical picture of Jesus and the way He sees beyond the superficial. Jesus looks beyond what Levi is and sees the beautifulperson Levi can become with God’s help. He even gives Levi a new name, Matthew, meaning “a gift from God.”

Good news! The church is a place for sinners who long to be saints, not a place for saints who have forgotten they are sinners. Jesus longs to give each of us a vision of the best that we can be with God’s help. None of us is ever beyond the transforming touch of the Master. Praise God!

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, I have decided to follow You. Help me to be all that I can be as Your faithful disciple. Amen.