13Once again, Jesus went to the shore of Lake Galilee. A large crowd gathered around him, and he taught them.14As he walked along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus. Levi was sitting at the place for paying taxes, and Jesus said to him, “Come with me!” So he got up and went with Jesus.
15Later, Jesus and his disciples were having dinner at Levi's house. Many tax collectors and other sinners had become followers of Jesus, and they were also guests at the dinner.
16Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were Pharisees, and they saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors. So they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17Jesus heard them and answered, “Healthy people don't need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn't come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners.”
Contemporary English Version. Copyright © 1995 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.
It’s natural in our fast paced, chronically busy, technology driven culture to feel isolated and alone. As we go through our days and weeks we wonder if there is anyone who knows us, anyone who loves us, or anyone who would love us if they really knew us.
Levi knew that he wasn’t loved. He was a tax collector; making his living off Rome’s oppression of the Jews. He was despised and rejected by the Pharisees, the good people of the land. And Jesus’ invitation was to him. It didn’t matter to Jesus what his political allegiances were or what other choices he had made to survive in his harsh world. Jesus knew that Levi was an outsider who needed to be invited into God’s loving embrace. He was an outcast who needed to know that God had not forgotten him.
Jesus was not only the kind of a man who could make an invitation to someone like Levi, he was the kind of man that Levi wanted to be around. Levi brought Jesus into his house for dinner with other tax collectors and sinners. As followers of Jesus we too are called to love those whom no one else will love. Whether they are marginalized by their political choices, sexual choices, racial heritage, income level, or religion, we are called to be a people who not only invite these others into God’s Kingdom but a people they would want to be in their homes and around their friends.
Gracious God, thank you for inviting me into your kingdom: for your love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Through your Spirit, help me to be like Jesus, a friend of the friendless, the unwanted, and the unloved. May my life be so inviting that they will want me to be with them and their friends. Amen.