“And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. ” (Luke 5:29-32 NASB)
This is one of my favorite accounts of Jesus. I love the whole scene as Levi responds in joy over his new life, Jesus enters into that joy with him, the Pharisees are offended, and Jesus calls them on it. But as I read more closely, it now seems to me Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees is that they should have been doing this all along. But I find plenty of growth areas for me as well.
GROWING AS LEVI DID
The first area of growth for myself is the joy of Levi. I have to ask myself, “where is my joy in my own salvation and calling?” So, in a sense, why am I not throwing a party for my lost friends so they can come meet Jesus? Beyond the first obvious problem that I’ve been saved for over 40 years, I don’t have a lot of lost friends. Maybe that’s part of the problem, not that I need to hang out with lost people, but that I’m not reaching out to the few I do know to join the party.
But an even bigger issue is the loss of my joy. Right now, if I did invite them to a dinner party, would it be to celebrate my salvation and calling by Jesus? Would I characterize such an event as a celebration? Would they? And when did that change? I think at some point I joined the Pharisees and are now replused by these people I’m supposed to share my joy with; they’re my friends after all, right? It’s actually as if I’m ashamed of my salvation or something. When did that happen?
GROWING OUT OF THE PHARISEE POINT OF VIEW
The Pharisees grumbled to Jesus’ disciples. It’s reminiscent of the people of Israel in the wilderness. But think about why they would grumble. I think they assumed Jesus would be like them, subscribe to their point of view, and follow the path they followed. But instead Jesus points out a flaw in their path, their failure to lead people to repentance.
There are all sorts of reasons people fall into this trap, and people will probably have several of those reasons going on at once. Mine is a mixture of fear and shame. I’m afraid people will see me for the selfish person I am, and I feel ashamed that I’m not who I’m supposed to be. That may also be what happened to my joy.
The truth that I ignore is that being honest about those qualities rob them of power over me, and my vulnerability about them creates a safer relational space for others to seek Jesus. If He loves me when I’m like that, they can hope He may also love them. And also the stress of trying hide the obvious would be gone, and I suspect my joy would return. Everyone wins, yet I’m still afraid to do it.
GROWING INTO JESUS’ POINT OF VIEW
Even thought the Pharisees asked His disciples, Jesus answers them Himself. This was too important to Him to leave misinterpreted. He invites the Pharisees into His point of view. That’s where I need to head, into the point of view of Jesus. It’s two-sided; both that the sick are important, and that I’m one of them. I beleive the Pharisees thought Jesus was there for them, and Jsus doesn’t deny that. But He points out He’s there for the sick.
On the one hand, the Pharisees are sick too. But on the other hand, thay are to be about reaching the sick as well. I need Jesus just as much as the lost people, but I need to be about reaching them as I was reached. I need the point of view of Jesus, I need to be healed and need to help others heal. In a sense that’s what I hope this blog does, progresses my healing and helps others heal.
What’s your view through the knothole?