In Mark 2:13-17, Jesus is calling his Apostles and welcomes the tax collector, Levi, into the group. Tax collectors were considered the dregs of humanity back in Jesus’s time. They were overwhelmingly unpopular for many reasons. However, here is Jesus calling one unto himself. The text says that Levi simply got up and followed Jesus. No question. No concern. Simply obeyed. Later in that passage, Jesus is seen at dinner at Levi’s house with the other apostles and growing number of disciples. Some scribes, who were Pharisees, imagine spies for the religion police, were watching this and commenting among themselves, for how could Jesus sit among such horrid and wretched people as tax collectors and sinners. Evidently, they are above reproach. The scribes ask themselves, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus hears this and responds, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do; I have come to call not the righteous but the sinner.” This is for sure a mic drop moment! I am fairly certain that the scribes don’t quite understand what Jesus is saying. We should, but they don’t. Jesus did not come for those who are “perfect”; He came for those who are broken. We are all broken in one way or another. Jesus came so that we may be united with Him and healed of that brokenness. We are already whole in just knowing Him, further healed by serving Him, and all consumed when loving Him. It is in our imperfection that we are made perfect. Jesus meets us right there just like He did Levi and every other poor soul at the table. It was those who already thought they were perfect that He simply couldn’t reach. I think of them as the do-gooders who are just looking for appreciation but miss the purpose of doing good, or those who can regurgitate doctrine or dogma but just can’t seem to apply it. They didn’t get it. They were unable to humble themselves.
When reading the gospel, place yourself in the story. Take a moment to read Mark 2: 13-17 and the surrounding verses. Where would you be found? Would you be at the table, in the room, in the shadows, among the scribes, out in the street? What would it sound like, smell like, feel like? If you heard this first hand, what would you be thinking? Encounter Christ here. Let him speak to you. Let your mind get carried away in the exercise. Build your relationship with Jesus.