Mark 2:13–17 (ESV)
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Can you remember a moment in your life when something happened that resulted in a dramatic change in the way you viewed your life and the world? Graduating from high school or college, getting married, the birth of your children, the loss of a loved one, a health crisis, and other events like those are watershed moments in people’s lives. We also have watershed moments in our culture as well such as the events of September 11, 2001, or the current crisis of the covid pandemic. Those events changed our lives.
In our passage, there is one overarching point that is being made; because of Jesus, things are changing. Something new is breaking into the world, something completely different, and the old ways of doing things just won’t fit with the new life that is breaking into the world through Jesus.
A new day has dawned, and God’s mercy, love, and grace are being poured out in the presence of Jesus to everyone including those who have been marginalized by the old systems and practices.
Levi (or Mathew as he is also known—the author of Matthew’s Gospel) is a great example of this new day and life in Jesus. Levi was a hated tax collector. Tax collectors were despised because they collaborated with the Roman authorities and often charged too much and pocketed the rest for themselves.
Tax collectors were lumped in with sinners and any good religious person would do all that they could to distance themselves from those of questionable moral and spiritual health. But not Jesus. Jesus saw Himself as a doctor who had come to heal the sick and a doctor can’t do their work without being in the presence of the sick.
And so God’s mercy, love, and grace are being poured out through Jesus to those who are in desperate need (even though they might not realize their need).
In Jesus, things are changing, the kingdom of God is breaking into the world, and from now on, everything, everything is different.
As I think about the passage it’s easy to see where we are challenged.
Just the other day I was driving on a busy road when I saw a fox pursuing a chicken. In a desperate attempt to get away, the chicken darted across the road and the fox followed momentarily. However, the fox quickly realized the danger of his situation and turned around while the chicken continued on into new life on the other side of the road (yes, that’s why the chicken crossed the road).
There is our old life and the new life to which Jesus is calling us to in Him. Which one are you living in? Do you find yourself moving back and forth between the two? If you do, you’ll soon discover that you’ll be frustrated and unsatisfied with either option as you try to navigate being in the middle of the road; but you know what happens if you stay in the middle of the road too long—roadkill.
If we’re to entrust our lives to Jesus, no half measures are allowable as we begin to explore our new life in Christ and follow Jesus on this great and challenging adventure as the kingdom of God continues to unfold and impact the world.
To add another chicken metaphor to the mix today, as C.S. Lewis said, “We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers.