Posted by: Jo | July 12, 2013

A Thoroughly Disreputable Bunch

image“Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1 – 2)

Recently I was reading an article about who Jesus mixed with when he was on earth and the author noted that they seemed to be a thoroughly disreputable bunch (I loved that description). As I considered this I agreed and noted, as I often have, how Jesus surprised everyone in the way he overturned the way people thought. His disregard for what people “thought was right” angered, confused, amazed and often caused people to give up their former lives and follow him. I decided to look more closely at who Jesus chose to associate with.

“After 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 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:27 – 28)

Levi, also called Matthew, was one of those despised tax collectors. Firstly he was being paid by the hated Romans who were in control of Israel, to extract taxes from the Jews and secondly it was widely known that he cheated his own fellow countrymen by taking more from them than was expected. No self-respecting Jew would be seen in his company and yet here we see Levi holding a great banquet for Jesus andimage Jesus accepting to dine with him and other tax collectors. (Luke 5:29) Obviously Jesus saw something in Matthew that was not apparent to outsiders and we see the effect of meeting Jesus had upon him as he abruptly chooses to leave everything behind to follow this one who becomes his Lord and Master as he eventually becomes one of the apostles.

Zacchaeus also falls into this dubious bunch that Jesus mixes with, and he too has a life changing experience on meeting Jesus and realises how despicable his life style has become and cries out in repentance to him;

“..Look Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 19:8)

The list goes on and on from prostitutes, thieves, adulterers (the woman at the well) lepers, all being sought out by Jesus. Jesus chose to mingle with the poor, the outcasts of society, the underprivileged, the despised, nobody being considered unworthy to receive his love. He chose to ignore the restrictions of class or wealth. He chose to ignore race and bias. His love had and still has no bounds.

How do we see this being portrayed in our own lives? It is so easy to remain in our own comfort zone, to stay with those who look like us and have the same standards. It is so easy to dismiss others whose lives have taken a different turn from ours. It is hard to look beyond the external front people present and find the inner self who may be hurting. Looking deeply at Jesus’ example spurs us on to try to emulate him to ask him to allow us to look at others with the same compassion as he does. I love the words of this old hymn.

imageLord I Would Follow Thee

Who am I to judge another?

When I walk imperfectly

In the quiet heart is hidden

Sorrow that the eye can’t see

Who am I to judge another?

Lord I would follow thee.

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Responses

  1. Thanks, Jo – good words as always. Without Jesus, we are all a very disreputable bunch!

    Like

  2. It’s interesting that Jesus spoke these words to the”church” audience ……it is so sad that we don’t realize that we are all smelly ,disreputable,sinners saved by grace! It is so much work pretending and covering up our smelly selves with perfume!!!

    Like


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