While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
It was big news when Levi (also called Matthew) left his tax-collecting booth and followed Jesus. The Jews despised tax collectors for siding with the Roman government. No doubt some of Jesus’ own followers were miffed that Levi had joined them. But there they were together, Jesus and the disciples—among them a tax collector— sharing a meal.
The religious leaders saw this group and questioned Jesus’ actions. How could He even think about eating with such sinners? The Pharisees’ spiritual pride placed them above any association with those “below” them. But Jesus reminded them that the sick, not the healthy, were the ones who really needed a doctor. The irony of this story is that the leaders who thought they were righteous were just as sick as the tax collectors.
The spiritual pride of the Pharisees was just as deadly as the greed of the tax collectors. The belief that you don’t need God is just as damaging as the belief that He really needs you. Sin makes us sick and in need of the Great Physician.
Father, please don’t let me be blinded by pride. Don’t let me think others are bigger sinners than me. Help me always remember that I am spiritually sick and Jesus is the Great Physician. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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