Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 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?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:29-32)
At one time I taught a Bible Study at a home for unwed teenage mothers and mothers-to-be. These young women, some only 13 or 14, had no family willing to care for them. The oldest, 17, was pregnant with her third child. Some had juvenile records. None of them felt loved or loved themselves. Just as the sick need a doctor to heal, so do the unloved need Jesus to be loved. It was a fulfilling mission.
Devout Jewish families raised their children with love, instilling in them a sense of self-worth. Their friends went to temple and shared the same beliefs and customs. Everyone felt protected. Unfortunately, when we don’t leave our safety zones to share our love, the unloved remain deprived. Since Pharisees were divided by sects according to their beliefs, these particular men were new Christians, not looking to discredit Jesus, but asking questions to understand. They may or may not have followed Jesus into the banquet. But James, John, Andrew, and Peter were there because the Pharisee’s question, “Why do you eat and drink with sinners,” was asked of them. Because they had been taught to socialize only with Jewish people who obeyed the law, they didn’t know the answer to the question. So, Jesus answered, “I call sinners to repentance.” In other words, the unloved need to know God’s grace of forgiveness and unconditional love. We can show them love by eating with them.
Dear Heavenly Father, we pray for the opportunity to show your grace of forgiveness and unconditional love to those who need it. Let us take a moment to help someone change a tire, unload groceries for the handicapped, or help someone in a wheelchair ascend a hill. Let us show your love to someone who may be feeling unloved today.