15 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. 16 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?”
17 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.” (Mark 2:15-17)
This is the challenge I have in my life: where can I be found? Since moving from a place I lived for 20 years, I’ve had to rebuild those places and I can honestly say it’s hard on me.
Some notes I’ve accumulated over the years in this passage:
Where do I hang out? Am I paying attention to the margins?
“Tax collectors and sinners” are linked three times (2:15–17). Both terms represent groups that were ostracized from pious Jewish society, the former for political and ethical reasons and the latter for more purely religious or cultic reasons. Both are spoken of in the NEB as “bad characters” and “this bad company.” The TEV’s translation for “sinners” expresses the essential issue in a single word: “outcasts.” The note in verse 15 that “there were many (of these social and religious outcasts) who followed him” doubtless describes not only Jesus’ associates during his earthly life, but also the early Christian community from which this Gospel emerged and for which it was written. Such a church would remember this story gratefully as its members answered their critics in the synagogue.
Williamson, L. (1983). Mark. Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching (68). Atlanta, Ga.: J. Knox Press.
The power of the Kingdom: When the clean touches the unclean, the CLEAN “infects” the unclean!
The Kingdom is about reaching the broken, not just hanging out with those who THINK they are whole.
The new wineskin: You don’t avoid the unclean… YOU ENGAGE in the world. You allow the power of the Kingdom to infect others.
Table fellowship indicated intimate relations among those who shared it.
Table fellowship indicated intimate relations among those who shared it. The Pharisees were particularly scrupulous about their special rules on eating and did not like to eat with less scrupulous people, especially people like tax gatherers and sinners. Here they assume that Jesus, being a wise teacher, ought to share their religious convictions.
What marks MY life? This is the question that haunts me.
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