“And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him. 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?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Mark 2:14-17
Jesus lived intentionally every moment. As He walked along, as He taught, as He passed by, He was always about His Father’s business, always alert to opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, always a bubbling fount of truth and love to those He encountered, always present. His call to Levi (Matthew) was effectual; the one with a dubious reputation because of his line of work (think shady used car salesman) heard his Savior’s call and could not resist. He not only followed, but he couldn’t get enough, and invited Jesus, and his colleagues, to follow him home.
The gathering that ensues, when we realize what is really taking place, can startle many of us, maybe make us uneasy. Jesus went, and reclined at Levi’s table with ‘many;’ we imagine Him conversing, laughing, asking penetrating and get-to-know-you questions as He, effusive with care, interest, and compassion, dined with the social outcasts. Jesus, the perfect, holy One, was relaxed, available, at ease, in the moment. And not accidentally. This was Who He was. He had come to seek and to save the lost, and was therefore in His element. (Matthew 9:36; Luke 19:10)
What drives me as I go on my way each day? Am I more bent on my preferences and agenda than on looking for and seizing divine opportunities? Am I so enthusiastic and deliberate to get involved with those I see as “impossibles” or “pricklies,” to go where they are, to love on them? What providential appointments do I, because of neglect, prejudice, a closed heart, or a harried schedule, miss? Whom will I invite to sit with Jesus? The same Savior Who moves me to follow Him can transform my thinking and desires and mission toward others He is inviting to the table.
“Jesus! what a Friend for sinners! Jesus! Lover of my soul;
friends may fail me, foes assail me, He, my Savior makes me whole.
Hallelujah! what a Savior! Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end.” ~J. Wilbur Chapman (1910)
Savior, You Who have befriended me, teach me to be Your kind of friend to others. Open wide my heart and mind to look for the lost, to go out of my way to care about and spend time with those unloved by others, to include them, to share with them my attention over a feast of the Bread of life. (John 6:35; 10:10)