While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus loves people. It doesn't matter who they were, where they came from, or their occupation. He took the time to sit down with the folks he met, get to know them and share with them--His Story. Yes, he talked to them about salvation because he loved them. Back in his day, tax collectors we're often cheaters who stole money for themselves from the collected taxes. They were pretty much low-lifes in the eyes of the community. And you can bet, the religious leaders of the day didn't bother to even say hello. Yet Jesus sat down at the table with Matthew.
Tax collectors weren't the only ones Jesus befriended. His disciples were a bunch of regular guys who were sometimes a bit clueless and smelled like fish. But he loved them and taught them about the new kingdom, his kingdom and his sacrifice. Then there were the women. Mary Magdalene had been filled with demons. Jesus cast them out of her, and she followed him. He loved children and protected them. He loved older people, sick people, and sinners. Jesus wasn't a push-over. He was a care-taker, one who wanted the best for everyone he met. And that best is salvation. So you might be surprised who the Lord hung out with. It wasn't the kings or queens, rabbis or teachers. Oh he spoke with them, too. But he spent his precious time on earth with regular people. Like you and me. And he still wants to, through us.
He invited regular old Joes and Janes to take up the cross and follow him. He included the lame, the lepers, and the dying into his fold. He healed and loved. Knowing how Jesus cared for people, how can I do any less? It's hard for me because I'm not exactly a people person, yet God puts folks in my path and says love them. With his help I do.
How about you? Who has Jesus called you to love? Who has he asked you to share his story with?