Mark 2: 13-17
A relationship involves a close connection between two people who share something in common among themselves.
It sometimes involves close interactions, support and sharing of intimacy.
Jesus is open to relating with everyone because He comes for everyone. He does not segregate. He wants to relate with you and me. Most especially, He opens himself to people that need Him. He also continually calls sinners who do not need Him to repentance.
There are times we think that God has already ruled us out. There are some people who when they remember their past, feel a sense of guilt and believe there is no salvation for them anymore.
In the gospel of today, Jesus calls a tax collector to be His apostle instead of the righteous Pharisees. He sits with sinners and eats with tax collectors.
This in any way does not mean that Jesus is condoning evil, but this shows that Jesus is open to relating with everyone.
Like the way He calls a tax collector, He is also calling us to follow Him, be close to Him, dine with Him and interact with Him. He still wants to forgive us and make us new creatures.
The Past is Not an Option.
There are times when we remember our pasts, it will look as if we have committed the worst atrocities and thus we think that what is in store for us is only punishment.
Sometimes our sense of guilt makes it looks as if God will never forgive us again. At these moments, we continue to beat ourselves up.
What we need is an encounter with the Lord. In His presence, the past is not an option. Jesus is open to relating with everyone, He needs us only to approach His throne of mercy and seek forgiveness.
When Jesus encounters Levi today, He did not begin to enquire about His past and how he has been extorting money through taxes.
At that time the easiest way to make money is to be a tax collector. It was like a get rich quick scheme. But the interest of Jesus was to change Levi.
So, Jesus wants to change us and not to destroy us. We are the ones who destroy ourselves by refusing His invitation to be close to Him. He loves us, but we are very occupied and busy.
So, Jesus is open to relating with everyone, He wants the sinner to respond to His call to follow Him.
Levi was said to be employed by Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, as a tax collector. A traveller from either Herod Philip’s territory or the Decapolis would naturally pass through Capernaum on entering Galilee.
Along this route stands Levi’s tax collector’s booth. These tax collectors were despised by the Jews because they were considered traitors and extortioners. Therefore, they consider them as the worst sinners.
To make this practical, it is like seeing Jesus in the midst of leaders hated by the people.
Of course, many would not be happy with that. But Jesus knows that an encounter or meeting with Him is enough to change the other person.
Sometimes, this is the reason that the more we pray that God hates and demolish our enemies, the more God waits that they change and return to Him. Jesus is open to relating with everyone if we can make out time for Him.
Eating With Jesus.
In the gospel, the tax collectors eat with Jesus. Therefore, this is enough evidence to show that Jesus is open to relating with everyone.
“Eating with Jesus” (synanekeinto to Iesou) seems to suggest that the tax
collectors and sinners were having dinner with Jesus.
This hence suggests that Jesus is also calling sinners to the Kingdom. It is a call to experience His merciful heart. He is willing to forgive us again and make us new.
The meal was an anticipation of the messianic banquet that is awaiting them at last.
The dinner held in Levi’s house was probably his farewell party since he was leaving to become one of Jesus’ disciples, or perhaps he simply wanted to gather his friends together so that they too could have an opportunity to meet Jesus.
In the same way, we do have daily opportunities to dine with God, repent and come back to Him. He is open to relating with everyone if we can give Him the opportunity
If we are still living, it means we still have the chance now before it becomes late.
Our souls are not damned already. What Jesus wants from me and you, is to respond to Him today.
Jesus the Physician.
When the scribes of the Pharisee party see Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this He responded to them, ‘It is not the healthy that needs the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’
Therefore, Jesus sees Himself as a physician as against the scribes who were scandalised to see him in the midst of tax collectors and sinners.
The scribes depend only on their self-righteousness while Jesus needs those who depend on His mercy and forgiveness.
A physician ministers to the sick and not to those who think they are healthy and have no need for Jesus.
Not only that. A physician examines a patient, diagnoses any problem and proposes a treatment plan for him.
For the sick person to be free, he has to accept the diagnosis and follow the treatment plan. Jesus heals us both spiritually and physically. He proposes to us come to Him always to be healed. In the same way, we have to accept His diagnosis and follow the treatment plan.
So, that thing that is making you lose hope in life is in need of this Great Physician. Jesus is open to relating with everyone.
That past mistakes that make us feel like killing ourselves and committing suicide need His Divine Touch.
Therefore, Jesus wants to relate with you. Jesus is open to relating with everyone.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrew 4:16).
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to continually approach Him in faith and love. Amen