Fifth Week of Lent – Jesus Feeds
April 7, 2019
From Presbyterian Outlook Devotions, Jill Duffield, Editor
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." 28 And he got up, left everything, and followed him. 29 Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" 31 Jesus answered, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32 I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance."
I love Levi’s reaction to Jesus. Levi, that sinful tax collector, leaves everything and then throws a party in Jesus’ honor. He invites all his tax collector friends and colleagues. He cannot contain his joy at being found and called by Jesus. He wants to let others in on this great happening. Jesus doesn’t hesitate to attend the banquet, eat with the disreputable and join with those others seek to avoid. The religious righteous want nothing to do with this scene. They grumble, question Jesus’ judgment and ask why he would sink so low as to eat with the likes of Levi and his kind. Jesus who feeds thousands and eats with multitudes, replies unequivocally, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus is exactly where he needs and wants to be: feeding the hungry in body and spirit, eating with those in need of transformation, healing the sick, bringing home the lost, calling sinners to repentance as he mingles among the guests at Levi’s dinner party.
Where do we see ourselves in this scene? As the righteous unwilling to be associated with Levi and his ilk or as a sinner in need of Jesus’ salvation? Are we hungry for the bread of life, eager to be fed by and eat with Jesus or self-satisfied and certain of our own ability to take care of ourselves without need of Jesus’ intervention?
This week we will sit at table with Jesus. We will join the crowds on the grass and be fed by bread blessed and broken. We will be invited to help feed others, passing the baskets and collecting the leftovers when all have eaten and are full. We will invite Jesus into our homes, just as they are, and listen to his words, ask him to supply our every need and be fed by the one who is the bread of life that never fails to nourish and sustain us.
Lord, you eat with all those who invite you to dinner. You do not hesitate to rub elbows with those society deems unworthy. You call sinners to repentance and never fail to feed us on the bread of life that offers forgiveness, mercy and redemption. We relish your presence, your goodness, your grace. Amen.