Sinners Follow Jesus
Employers select the best candidates for a job. So, it seems logical that God would choose the best people to serve Him. But in this narrative, Jesus chose dishonest Levi (Matthew), and then hosted his leaving party surrounded by those whose morals and integrity were in tatters (Luke 15:1-2). The religious leaders asked the obvious question, "Why?" Why should one who claims to be the representative of heavenly perfection, soil himself with corrupted people? This must prove that He is not from God, and certainly not God (Luke 7:39).
Jesus' choice of Levi was not a random action. In the same way that He knew all about Nathaniel before they met (John 1:45-51), Jesus knew Levi. He was a local Jewish tax collector who worked for the Roman authorities which heavily taxed the territories they had conquered. Income tax, property tax, import and export taxes, sales tax, crop tax and fish tax accumulated large sums of money to pay for the infrastructure of the provinces and also fund Rome's expansive empire ambitions. Many Jews were recruited to collaborate with the pagan invaders. It was lucrative work because they demanded extra money which they kept for themselves (Luke 19:8); and so they were hated by ordinary traders and by the religious leaders. They were immoral people, as despised as prostitutes (called 'sinners' in these verses).
Why should Jesus allow sinful people to follow Him? Why did He pollute Himself by eating in their expensive homes? The religious leaders did not ask Jesus, but His disciples; however Jesus answered for them. His mission was not to call the self-righteous who thought that they were good enough for God. He had come to call sinners so that He could make them righteous. In the same way that sick people need a doctor, sinners need the Saviour. The grace of the gospel is that Jesus personally chose to take our dirt in order to make us clean (1 Peter 2:24).
Alas, too many Christians are still impregnated by hypocritical religious ideas. We believe that the nice person in the company might be converted, yet have low spiritual expectations for the office gossip, the violent customer or the embezzling executive. The fact is that we are all sinners (Romans 3:10, 23) whatever our social masks, education and respect from the community. We all need Jesus. He loves everybody equally; and so should we. He wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-6). That should shape our praying and our witness. Why not treat each meeting, phone call or e-mail today as if the Lord Jesus is calling your client, employee or boss? Next month or next year that person could be your brother or sister in Christ. How you treat each sinner reflects how great a Saviour you think Jesus is.
© Dr Paul Adams