Jesus Chooses Levi
(Matthew 9.9-13; Mark 2.13-17)
27Later, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the place for paying taxes. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 28Levi left everything and went with Jesus.
29In his home Levi gave a big dinner for Jesus. Many tax collectors and other guests were also there.
30 The Pharisees and some of their teachers of the Law of Moses grumbled to Jesus' disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with these tax collectors and other sinners?”
31Jesus answered, “Healthy people don't need a doctor, but sick people do. 32I didn't come to invite good people to turn to God. I came to invite sinners.”
People Ask about Going
(Matthew 9.14-17; Mark 2.18-22)
33Some people said to Jesus, “John's followers often pray and go without eating, and so do the followers of the Pharisees. But your disciples never go without eating or drinking.”
34Jesus told them, “The friends of a bridegroom don't go without eating while he is still with them. 35But the time will come when he will be taken from them. Then they will go without eating.”
36Jesus then told them these sayings:
No one uses a new piece of cloth to patch old clothes. The patch would shrink and make the hole even bigger.
37No one pours new wine into old wineskins. The new wine would swell and burst the old skins. Then the wine would be lost, and the skins would be ruined. 38New wine must be put only into new wineskins.
39No one wants new wine after drinking old wine. They say, “The old wine is better.”
No one enjoys hanging out with the wrong crowd, whatever crowd that may be. Different people do not mix easily, even when occupying the same space.
No one would choose a tax collector to befriend the Jewish populace. Many Jews considered tax collectors to be dishonest in financial matters and traitors to their own nations, as these taxes were given over into Roman hands. However, Jesus called Levi (also known as Matthew) to be among his followers, and even accepted an invitation for dinner at his house where similar “sinners” could be found.
No one likes hearing bad news, especially from one’s physician. As Pharisees and some teachers of the Law of Moses grumbled at Jesus’ sinful company, they heard Jesus’ mission statement: “I didn’t come to invite good people to turn to God. I came to invite sinners” (Luke 5:31). The Pharisees, just as much as the people they looked down on, were sinners who needed a physician. We are all faced with our need to turn away from our sins when we encounter Jesus.
No one would try to mix together incompatible elements, like mourning during the wrong season (as Jesus the bridegroom stood in their midst), or patching old clothes with new pieces of cloth, or even pouring swelling new wine into old wineskins. The newness of Jesus’ mission and ministry required a radical change of mind. Merely saying, “The old wine is better” (v 39), shows how difficult it is to change our habits and attitudes.
Jesus’ mission requires us to repent, to adjust our own agenda and mindset to the Lord’s. Perceptions about ourselves, often deceitful, are to be brought to the light of Jesus’ invitation. Moreover, his invitation extends to people we would not have chosen. How grateful we are he called us! How thankful we are he also called other sinners!
Father who forgives and calls unworthy people, I rejoice in your forgiveness. Help me to see myself as a needy sinner, and to rejoice in the forgiveness for all who come to you. In the name of the one who died so our sins might be taken away. Amen.