Good morning my students. I hope you are all rested up and ready for an excellent week. Our annual read-a-thon starts today. We are needing to raise $3000 so we need each of you to raise at least $100. I know with a little effort you could go way beyond this. Of course I expect more out of you then I do out of the Elementary; it is only natural.
It is not dissimilar to what we find in Mark 2:13-17. Here we read about the calling of Levi, also known as Matthew. Levi was a tax collector which was about as low as you could go in Israel's society. Israelites could not handle being a conquered people and faught back whenever they could. Thousands gave up their lives in trying to free Israel from the Romans. It would have been like a flee trying to remove a leg of an elephant.
It is in this atmosphere that we find Levi, the tax collector. He, along with all Israelite tax collectors, would have been hated. They were consider traitors. It would not have been because of the money but instead because they were working for the Romans, collecting taxes from Israelites for the Romans. He would not have been forced to do this but instead would have applied for the position. Imagine what group of people would have accepted him as a friend; theifs, prostitutes, drunkards, murderers and the like. Certainly not polite society. You are beginning to imagine what Jesus did by calling Levi to be his disciple.
Now understand the reaction of the prim and proper Pharisees. To call dumb, smelly fishermen as his disciples is bad enough but now he was calling traitors. On top of that he was hanging out with his friends:
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 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'?"
The point I want to make with you is found in Jesus response. Remember they did not ask him the question directly but he is responding to them anyway. He wanted to make this clear to them:
"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
The Pharisees and teachers of the law already had the answers. They had the knowledge and understand to act on that knowledge. If anyone could have understood Jesus it was these people. Remember Jesus came to give the Good News to those who did have access to it. What Jesus was doing was not a secret but was described plainly in the scriptures. Why should Jesus spend time with those who already knew about the Good News? God's love is for everyone not just those with the knowledge so Jesus came to tell everyone who did not already know the Good News.
This shows that even though God loves all of us he has expectations for those who have the knowledge or should have the knowledge. He expects more from you. You have the Bible. You have attended Sunday School. You receive instruction on the Word practically every day of the school year. You have no excuses and God has expectations for you.
You know what the read-a-thon is. You know the school needs the money. You know with a little effort you can make a good contribution. You know the Word of God. You spend time with it almost every day. You know God's expectations for you. He is now holding you accountable. You are no longer a child. You are part of the "righteous" crowd. What are you going to do; deny him or follow?