"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.
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 5:27-32
Now there is a way that I've read this passage and it's not wrong but it was missing a major piece.
See, I've read this before and been grateful that Jesus came to heal and forgive the sickest of society, that Jesus did not come to sit in the Temple all day but rather to go to those who were outsiders and proclaim the Gospel to them and to love them. Jesus most certainly did this.
I've always wondered what sorts of people we may be surprised to see Jesus around. Would we be surprised to find Jesus dining with: a democrat? A republican? A homosexual? A prisoner? A drug addict? A __________? This is a great question to ask. In Jesus' day tax collectors were outsiders and Jesus was dining with tax collectors and other "sinners" and this shocked and disgusted the religious leaders. Who would we be shocked to see Jesus around? We should ask ourselves this question and then repent of our blatant disregard for God's love for that group of people.
But this interpretation is missing a major piece.
The Pharisees were told by Jesus, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." We read this and think that Jesus must have been in the right place and with the right people to complete His mission. What I saw recently is that the Pharisees should have fallen at Jesus' feet and said, "Heal us Great Physician! We are sinners! What must we do to be saved?"
The Pharisees heard that Jesus came for the sick and had no idea they were suffering from a terminal cancer. Sin spreads in us and without intervention it kills us every time, no matter how visible it is on the outside. Many of us have read this passage and thought about all the "sinners" that Jesus came for. We put ourselves in place of the Pharisees except we think that we're the nice, righteous people who, unlike the Pharisees, follow Jesus. We aren't those sick "sinners" but we're also not those unbelieving Pharisees. When in reality we should read this passage and praise God that He came to call sinners like me and you to repentance.
The Pharisees were like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They were armless. legless and willfully oblivious to their wounds. Too often we are like that, too. We see the mortal wounds of others but think our sins are but a scratch.
The Gospel is offensive because it declares that you are a sick sinner in need of saving no matter how good you think your are. And the Gospel is such good news because it declares that Jesus came to heal and forgive the terminally sick sinners of the world, you and I included.
Recognize your need for the Great Physician and when He comes to heal you, when He calls you to repentance be like Levi and leave everything to follow Him. Leave your sinfulness, leave your self-righteousness, leave your pride... leave everything and follow the only one who can heal your sin-sick soul today.
(Pardon the couple moment of mild language)