Have you ever had a disruptive guest at one of your parties?
Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?” Matthew 9:10. Msg
This verse is about Levi, also known as Matthew. Right after Matthew began to follow Jesus he threw a party.
Matthew, a tax collector, was probably not popular. But he knew some folks. He knew street people. In other words, Matthew had “rough and rowdy friends.” People from the “wrong side of the tracks”. Maybe some were pickpockets or homeless people. Matthew knew the seamier side of life.
What did Matthew do? He threw a party for everyone he knew. A Jesus party. He wanted the people he knew to follow Jesus. And they came. Seldom are the homeless invited to a party.
Who was the disruptive guest? The disruptive guest was Jesus. He was enjoying the party.
There were some people there who were very proud of themselves. They were known as being pious, praying on the street corner, and getting public recognition for financial gifts. They put their beliefs on display for all the world to see.
Here we see Jesus enthusiastically enjoying the street people, the ne’er do wells.
The self-righteous folks became angry. You see Levi invited the “wrong people” and Jesus was laughing, enjoying and eating with them. With a harrumph, frown, and whisper, the “good folk” decided Jesus could not be a “man of God” and enjoy ”those kind of people.”
We haven’t changed much. We still have people from the “wrong side of the tracks.” We still have many of the “seamier side of life.”
And we still judge them. “If they only weren’t so lazy they wouldn’t be in that predicament.” “If only they worked as hard as I do…” “Something must be wrong with them or they wouldn’t have all those problems.” “They are just ‘takers’ “ (implying they are taking away from us).
According to a recent poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation the majority of evangelicals believe the poor are responsible for the their plight.
God forgive us if we sit in the corner with the self-righteous.
Jesus never asked anyone to fill out a form to decide whether someone was worthy of help. They just had to have a need.
I am glad I didn’t have to be worthy of help for Jesus to make me a child of God. I don’t need justice, I need grace.
Funny, how we want grace for ourselves but justice for everyone else.
Levi’s friends were not intimidated by Jesus. Why? I think Jesus radiated a sense of acceptance. People knew he liked them. They saw he didn’t look down on them. He could laugh and get real with people at the same time.
Jesus welcomed the strangers, the folks on the margins of society.
Just as He welcomed and accepted them, He accepts you. Just as you are. No strings attached.
The Jesus Party is for you, too.