“And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:15-17
Imagine you are on a nice, all-expenses paid Mediterranean cruise. You spend your days with friends enjoying the luxurious surroundings and endless buffets of food. This is your vacation–you’ve earned it. Every other day you pull into port and do a little shopping and other fun activities like snorkeling and island adventures as time allows.
Upon one port–the best of them all–the possibilities seem endless. You look over the menu of activities and are sad that you can only choose two when there are over a dozen listed! If only you could spend an entire week here!
But to your surprise, your friends decide to do something completely out-of-the-box. Instead of chasing after fun, they decide to visit the local hospital to spread some good cheer–and they want you to tag along. You reluctantly agree–even though you’ve always wanted to go horseback riding on the beach and zip-lining through the green jungle. Instead you now find yourself in the local hospital visiting people who seldom see anyone. You may not realize it, but you’ve just gone from being a tourist to being a care-giver.
And yet this is exactly what Jesus does–and more–in coming to us. Giving up the joys of Heaven, he comes to our world and welcomes us sinners. He opens up his home (his presence) to us–just like he did in this story in Mark 2:15-17. He shares his presence with us–enjoys life with us–as he draws us closer and closer to himself.
Jesus seemed to go where few others wanted to go. And he hung around those that religious people despised. And this is exactly the kind of savior that we need.
Think about it this way. If we had a savior who made us clean up for him, then he’d be a reformist. He’d challenge you to do better–to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and try harder. But that’s not the Jesus that is presented to us in Scripture.
If we had a savior who only hung around certain people, then he’d be an elitist. He’d always leave you wondering if you were good enough to be in his special club.
And the list goes on. But notice what Jesus does in this passage. He invites the outcasts to his home. He feeds them. And they fellowship together–much to the chagrin of the religious status quo.
This means that he also wants to do the same for you. In your mess–in your stress–Jesus wants to be present. Just let that truth sink in–and no moment will ever be the same.