Jesus, Our Friend
“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.” (Mark 2:15 NIV)
The Bible says that one day, Jesus was in Bethany, reclining at the table of Simon the Leper (Mark 14:3). I’m so glad that Jesus had friends like Simon the Leper!
In those days, the Jewish people had copied the Greek culture and what the Romans did, as they sat, leaned back, and ate what was before them. Jesus was reclining at the table, eating a meal at the home of Simon the Leper, whose leprosy, it seems, had been cured. He had been healed by Jesus, and now Jesus was having some fellowship with him, because Simon the Leper was one of his buddies. How offensive that must have been to the religious leaders! They were used to pomp and ceremony and being with the elite, and now here was the Teacher, at a former leper’s house, eating a meal with common people. How beneath them it all was, in their estimation.
Jesus was looked down upon, not just for being in the house of Simon the Leper, but for eating with tax collectors and other “undesirables.” One day, he was criticized for eating at the home of Levi, the tax collector, along with many other tax collectors and “sinners.” The Gospel of Mark says that the teachers of the law asked the disciples why Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, to which Jesus himself replied that it was not the healthy, but rather the sick, that needed a doctor. Then he said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Of course, it says elsewhere in Scripture that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), but these religious leaders were blinded by the false estimation they had of their own significance.
But it wasn’t just a question of Jesus reaching out to the outcasts in order to call them out of their miserable state and heal them and have them come into the kingdom. That would have been good in and of itself. But, going back to Simon the Leper, we see that Jesus really had a relationship with him. He was his friend, and Jesus was following up on him on that day when he was in his house.
Aren’t you glad that Jesus is not a respecter of persons? It doesn’t matter to Jesus what our race or ethnicity is; nor does it matter to him what our educational or economic or social status is. He came to seek and to save that which was lost, and that included all of us. As Christians we have to thank God for that salvation every day. But it doesn’t end there. Jesus also came to have a relationship with us; truly he is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
Let’s spend time with him today.
Read Mark 2:13-17.