Episode 170: Dinner with Jesus
And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. (Mark 2:15)
There is a drastic difference between the Jesus we see in this story and the Jesus that the modern church has portrayed for way too long. Here we see Jesus at Levi’s house, having dinner with Levi’s friends and co-workers. The text says these people were following Jesus. This isn’t dinner at the Pastor’s house with the staff and deacons. This isn’t a who’s who of holy rollers having a meal with other Christians. This is Jesus and His disciples sitting in a house with people that were known sinners. Jesus liked these people and they liked Him. Jesus was in the presence of sinners and He wasn’t pointing out all of their faults. He wasn’t giving them a list of do’s and don’ts. He was simply having dinner with them and letting them get to know Him.
Jesus had compassion for this crowd and was willing to go to them. The Jesus we have seen portrayed by the modern church is one who Judges sinners and condemns their behavior. The modern church has turned Jesus from someone to be followed, into someone to be feared. Modern day Jesus seems only to be found in the presence of other Christians in a church building on special days. Surely He wouldn’t be found having dinner with the sinners of today.
Now I know we are supposed to invite people to our church gatherings on Sunday. We have been told that for years. “Be a Bringer” has been the slogan for many churches trying to drive attendance numbers. That’s all well and good but, when Philip told Nathanael to “Come and see”, he wasn’t inviting Nathanael to a church building. Philip took him into the very presence of Jesus. When Levi walked away from his tax collector’s booth, Jesus didn’t take him to the synagogue to talk to him. They went back to Levi’s house, in the company of people who looked nothing like disciples, and had a meal. They relaxed, broke bread, and had a conversation.
This bothered the Pharisees. In verse 16 they ask, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” It upset them that Jesus was more interested in the people who needed Him rather than those who claimed to already be holy. This has been the attitude of the modern church for too long. We offer criticism rather than cutlery. We are much quicker to offer a spot in a pew rather than a seat at the table. Maybe the problem is we only invite people to meet with Jesus on Sundays because that’s the only time we meet with Him as well. Jesus isn’t skipping dinner with us, He’s having dinner with those who have invited Him to the meal.
Let us be a people who don’t complain about Jesus being at the table with people who need Him. Bitterness and judgement don’t make for a filling meal. Let us lay aside our pride and self-righteousness to make room for others in our lives and at our table. Jesus made time to be around people who were not like Him so that they would get to know Him for who he really was. Let us do the same so that those who don’t know Jesus will get to know Him through us.
Love Y’all! Be Blessed!