Who’s the Doctor and Who is it That is Sick?
Luke 5:27 ¶ After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him,
Luke 5:28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
Luke 5:29 ¶ And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them.
Luke 5:30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Luke 5:31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
We talked about this during The Table series, but it’s worth coming back to: eating with someone in Jesus’ day was a big deal. It’s kind of like sitting by the front window at Cafe Arazu on Main Street in Evansville. Everyone that walks down Main can see who you are eating with. They can even see what you are eating and if you kept the lemon in your water or not!
Some of the richest folks, which Levi probably was, had a place where people could come and sit and watch the host and guests eat. Talk about people watching?! It may have been like this when the Pharisees saw this meal. They probably wouldn’t have even come in the house, though, since it was unclean. Just stepping foot in a ritually unclean house would mess up your day for at least the next 24 hours.
Jesus response is so awesome because it reveals where you are in the story. If you’re not sick, then you’re not at the party. The doctor didn’t come to see you and you can continue on with your little not-sick life. That’s the case for the Pharisees who are eating judgement and bitterness for dinner when they could be drinking fine wine. Instead of being with Jesus, they are on the edges, judging Him and those that are with Him.
Levi and his guests didn’t take offense to this statement. They didn’t respond “Who is this guy who thinks He’s here to heal all of us! What right does He have to call me sick?!” Levi is throwing a party. There is joy. A Rabbi has joined them which is unprecedented. Most of these folks never had a chance to talk to a Rabbi face to face.
Jesus partying with Levi was an open declaration of who was worthy to talk to this new Rabbi in town. C’mon all you sinners. Kicked out of the synagogue? Kicked out of your parent’s house? Not invited to Passover last year because of your undesirableness? Pull up a chair.
Not all of these folks ended up following Jesus. We never hear mention of another tax collector leaving his work to follow Jesus. We don’t know what the end result was, but note that Jesus wasn’t just doing it to get something out of it.
Before we go into yucky places thinking that we are The Doctor for the sick, maybe we could just humbly join the parties we’ve already been invited to. Parties are just made up of tax collectors that need some joy and good news. There are all kinds of other groups getting together all over the place for various topics and ideas. We can boldly and joyfully join them and leave the Pharisees out side with their judgments.
It’s fun. And Jesus is already there.