May 30 I Wednesday
2 Chronicles 10-12
“All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’” —Luke 19:7
Imagine for a moment what the Jewish leaders would have thought of the people Jesus chose to be His disciples. Four of them were originally fishermen, an occupation not known for its religious or academic requirements. One of them, Simon, was a zealot, which implies he was more in favour of violent revolution against the Romans than most Jews. Even worse, Matthew was a tax collector. This profession had a reputation for collaborating with the Romans a little too closely, often taxing their own people more than necessary to line their own pockets. The Pharisees and teachers of the law would have seen these kinds of men as inferior, reckless and not to be associated with, but Jesus chose them for His ministry.
Matthew was not the only tax collector Jesus associated with. Zacchaeus was a short man who climbed a tree to see Jesus when He was passing through Jericho. This tax collector got much more than he bargained for when Jesus called him down from the tree and invited Himself to his home. The people were astonished that Jesus would be “the guest of a sinner,” but Jesus looked past Zacchaeus’s profession to see a man willing to repent and believe.
The list goes on. When Jesus passed through Samaria, He stopped to talk to a woman whose sexual history with six different men was nothing to be proud of. She had likely earned a bad reputation with her peers, but Jesus chose her to be the first Samaritan to hear that He was the Messiah. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons. These were the unclean, the uncomfortable and the unnerving people in society, but Jesus was never deterred by a reputation or label.
The problem with labels is that we often let them define how we view another person. How often do we refuse to meet a homeless person’s eye or dismiss a hardened criminal as unworthy of our compassion? Society favours the distinguished, the wealthy and the well-educated, but Christ wants our priority to be all people. Churches are to be welcoming, not the home of cliques where we exclude those who think differently than us or shun those whose appearance strikes us as shabby and destitute. We are all made in the image of God, beloved by Him for how He has made us, and no label can ever disqualify us from admittance into His kingdom. He is willing to heal, inform and invite all of us into ministry with Him, and He asks that we show the same consideration to others.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I have been unwilling to look past a label. Transform my heart, Lord, so I can see others as You see them. Thank You, God.