(In Fitzroy we are journeying through Lent in the Travel Narratives of Luke (Chapters 9 to 19). We begin that journey on Monday so in these first few days I am going to draw out some thoughts from the first 9 chapters.)
READ: LUKE 5: 27- 32
27After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Here is a recurring theme in Luke’s account of Jesus life; Jesus reaching for the outsider and the religious unhappy at the fact.
I had three months living in Belfast city centre. I had no TV nor did I need one. From the window I could see the drug lift there, the prostitute rendezvous there. One morning I almost stepped over the night girls on my way to the Presbyterian Assembly Buildings. I moved quickly, no eyes connecting. And I thought that that was a good Presbyterian boy.
Then I was quickly drawn back to the Gospels. Jesus would have sat down and chatted with the prostitutes. They would have been drawn to his grace. It was bad discipleship that sent me off to some ivory tower religious office with the inability to reach out to these women that God loves. So many Discipleship Conferences and books and no one spent a chapter on how to hang with the people Jesus hung around with.
Of course had I sat with these ladies and done the Jesus thing I would have been looked on with some suspicion. My reputation might have been a tarnished (or even more tarnished than it is!!!). The tax collectors like Levi were the social pariahs like drug dealers might be considered today. How far we have gone from following Jesus to following some middle class behavioural code that we erroneously call Christian?
Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
PONDER AND ACT: This Lent, let us ask who it is we are hanging out with and who would Jesus have us spend our time with. Who are our Levi?