And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
(Luke 5:31-32 ESV)
5 episodes in the life of Jesus are recorded in the fifth chapter of Luke. Two of those involve incidents where men follow Jesus.
Episode 1 – Jesus All Up In Your Business
The first episode is at the seaside. Luke isn’t recording the content of what Jesus spoke about. What is fascinating is what Luke does choose to record about this episode. First it’s the location of Jesus’ teaching. They are at the seaside and Jesus chooses to have the folks gathered at the beach while he perches himself on a boat. A boat, the main vessel for the business of some of the folks. While these businessmen are sorting out their instruments of business following an unsuccessful venture, Jesus is teaching. They receive the impact from the teaching, however, when Jesus gets involved in their business.
It’s all well and good talking a good talk about Kingdom and righteousness and all of that. It’s leaving a mark when people recognise that Kingdom business has an impact on anyone’s business. The response to Jesus’ intervention turning an unsuccessful venture into a bumper bounty of business that could not be contained by one set of businessmen was life changing. His invitation to them was something they received to the extent that they would even leave the business that had consumed their lives to that point. That’s effective teaching.
Episode 2 – Jesus and the Unlikely Lads
Tax collectors in that day had an even worse reputation than tax people have today. Just let that sink in. (Yeah, I know, they must have had it real bad.) One of the reasons for their unpopularity was how they were middle men oppressing their own kind for the sake of the Romans. License from the rulers meant they could also take liberties in imposing financial demands on tax payers that exceeded that which was right and fair. That kind of reputation smeared everyone in that trade to such a degree that they were their own class of the hated – as in there were sinners and then there tax collectors. (I did tell you they had it really bad.)
It’s an outstanding sign of the reach of the message and mission of Jesus that in his movements he selects a tax collector to be part of his crew of followers. Particularly outstanding to the religious rulers and onlookers who have already been challenged by the somewhat unorthodox and disturbing methods Jesus has employed in his serving of others, like forgiving sins. If they had their concerns before, these were heightened when the chosen tax collector has a party with his people – who shock of all shocks – happen to be sinners AND tax collectors. You can imagine the incredulity on their faces when among the revellers is Jesus.
Not only is Jesus getting up in people’s businesses, but he doesn’t have a problem being with the unlikely lads. He doesn’t mind being with sinners and tax collectors. In fact his mission is precisely for those who have been written off and considered undesirable. The self-righteous and those who are good people not seeing the problem of their own inner illness obviously have no need for the Doctor. Jesus, loves those who recognise their position in life and are open for love, service, care and restorative efforts.
These are not just people he cares for, these are people he invites to follow him in his mission to establish the Kingdom that embraces, restores and redeems them.
Jesus is interested in your business, in the company you keep, in all of your life so that he can show up and make all the difference in it.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden