This morning’s devotion comes from Mockingbird’s latest publication, a slim devotional on the Gospel of Mark: An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel, by conference chaplain Larry Parsley. This resource is available for purchase through our online store and on Amazon.

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (2:16–17 ESV)

If you are trying to discern a pattern in the kinds of disciples Jesus enlists for his mission, good luck. Earlier, it was seasoned, ruddy-faced fishermen, and he hooked them with an opportunity to do a new kind of fishing. Now, teaching and traveling along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he makes eye contact with Levi, a hated tax collector, an outsider to polite religious circles. Two words—“follow me”—convince Levi to leave his ledger books and follow Jesus. Before he leaves town, Levi persuades Jesus to follow him to his home for a party with his disreputable friends. Apparently, Jesus is a magnet to these folk. Those who assume their life choices have exiled them from the life of faith are now sitting elbow to elbow with Jesus.

Jesus’ opponents cannot help but notice, and they learn an early lesson when gossiping about Jesus—his hearing is extraordinarily fine-tuned (v. 17). Why does he eat with “sinners”? Apparently, Jesus sees himself less as the President of the Holiness Club and more as an emergency room physician, binding up the wounds of those whose moral injuries are long past hiding.

Years ago, at a heated church business meeting, an older man rose to take issue with our pastor and the many changes he had made to reach people who don’t go to church. This man complained how new neighbors from highly churched backgrounds were not interested in our church anymore. And then he leveled what he must have thought was his most devastating indictment: “Since you came to be our pastor, the wrong kind of people are coming to our church.”

Exactly.

Jesus, thank you for welcoming the wrong kind of people…like me.