Topic: All Welcome! (October 13, 2016)
Read: Luke 5:27–32
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 41–42; 1 Thessalonians 1
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:32
The much-prayed-for film night at the church youth club had finally arrived. Posters had been displayed all around the village and pizzas were warming in the oven. Steve, the youth pastor, hoped that the film—about gang members in New York who were brought face-to-face with the claims of Jesus by a young pastor—would bring new recruits to the club.
But he hadn’t realized that a key football match was being shown on television that evening, so attendance was much smaller than he had hoped for. Sighing inwardly, he was about to dim the lights and begin the film when five leather-clad members of the local motorbike club came in. Steve went pale.
The leader of the group, who was known as TDog, nodded in Steve’s direction. “It’s free and for everyone, right?” he said. Steve opened his mouth to say, “Youth club members only” when TDog bent down and picked up a bracelet with the letters WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) stamped on it. “This yours, mate?” he asked. Steve nodded, hot with embarrassment, and waited while the new guests found a seat.
Have you ever been in Steve’s situation? You long to share the good news about Jesus, but you have a mental list of the “right” people who would be acceptable? Jesus was often criticized by the religious authorities for the company He kept. But He welcomed those everyone else avoided, because He knew they needed Him most (Luke 5:31–32).
Prayer: Lord, please help me to see people through Your eyes of love and to welcome all those You bring into my life.
A heart that is open to Christ will be open to those He loves.
Insight: In ancient Israel, tax collectors were considered traitors to their country because they were employees of the occupying Roman force. To make matters worse, some tax collectors demanded more tax than required from their fellow citizens. Thus Jesus’s choice of a “traitor” as one of His closest followers would have seemed strange, to put it mildly. Yet when the religious leaders confronted Jesus, His defense was not only logical but revealed the depth of His love and mission. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31). Jesus wasn’t applauding the religious leaders while condemning the depravity of Levi. Instead He was placing everyone on the same level. All need the love and healing He offers.