Photo by Jonathan Cosens Photography on Unsplash
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”
Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”
Why do you care what other people think about you?
As I read these stories that is the question that comes to mind. Jesus didn’t care what others thought of him. He just went about doing what he was called to do.
He simply loved people.
He loved people that were on the fringes of their community.
He loved people that were on the outside.
He loved people that others didn’t like.
He loved people that those within his group thought didn’t belong.
I can only remember one time where Jesus was worried about what others thought. That was in John 6 after he was teaching about how folks needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Most everyone left him and looked at his closest disciples and asked, “Will you leave me too?”
Jesus didn’t consider the opinions of those in power within his community to be of much value. What mattered most to him was to go be with the people, the people whom needed to know that they were loved and cared for by someone on the “inside.”
I think sometimes we miss the fact that Jesus was an insider within his community. He was teaching in Synagogues and was treated with respect by the religious leaders. While they may have challenged and questioned him, it appears from the Gospel stories that they never really kicked him to the curb, until the end of course.
Jesus had societal power as a rabbi.
How did he leverage that power? He did it by eating and drinking with “tax collectors and sinners.” He went to those who were in need of hearing and knowing that they were loved and cared for.
He was free from the need to “make” others happy. Jesus didn’t care what others thought of him. He knew that his radical approach was most likely going to make people uncomfortable and that it would challenged the assumptions of those within his community.
I need to think through this question, “If I didn’t care about what others thought, who would I be seeking out to love?”
How about you?