Numbers 36:1-13; Luke 5:29-39; Psalms 66:8-20; Proverbs 17:4-5
NT: “Then Levi hosted a grand banquet for him at his house. Now there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining at the table with them. But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Then they said to him, “John’s disciples fast often and say prayers, and those of the Pharisees do the same, but yours eat and drink.” Jesus said to them, “You can’t make the wedding guests fast while the groom is with them, can you? But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them — then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. Otherwise, not only will he tear the new, but also the piece from the new garment will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, it will spill, and the skins will be ruined. No, new wine is put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, ‘The old is better.’”” (Luke 5:29-39 CSB)
One thing that Luke’s gospel brings to light is the availability of the Kingdom of God to any and all peoples, no matter their past behavior nor present entanglements. Jesus intentionally went to the oppressed and outcast of society and brought the good news of the Kingdom to them as well as to the socially accepted. Levi, later renamed Matthew, was a tax collector – and because of his occupation alone was despised and rejected by the religious elite. Jesus didn’t despise him or reject him. Jesus went so far as to go to his house and make Himself available to all of Levi’s uncouth and socially outcast friends. Unlike the religious elite, Jesus didn’t see them as defiled people that would make Him dirty. He saw them as sick people who needed to be made well – and He was the one with the cure. The religious elite were so consumed with their outward piety that they had no room for joy and celebration. Jesus, on the other hand, came to bring the abundance of life, peace, and joy that comes from a right relationship to The Father. Jesus didn’t come to put a new face on an old system. He came to preserve and fulfill the old while initiating and releasing something completely new. Most people are resistant to change and prefer doing things the way they have always done them… but for those who would welcome and embrace His gospel – they would be made new. How often do I – do we become slaves to our categories and become hardened in our attitudes, our thoughts, and our behaviors – relegating people who are not like us as beyond the reach of what we have experienced in the Lord? The Kingdom is open and available to all. Am I… are we willing to embrace change to take the good news of the kingdom to all who need to hear? The greatest inalienable right of humanity is the right to hear the gospel of the Kingdom of God combined with the opportunity to respond to it.
Psalms: “Bless our God, you peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard. He keeps us alive and does not allow our feet to slip. For you, God, tested us; you refined us as silver is refined. You lured us into a trap; you placed burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us out to abundance.” (Psalms 66:8-12 CSB)
This year has been a year of trial and challenge – a year unlike any that most people alive today have ever experienced. Are we being punished or are we being refined? Those who will embrace the Lord through all of this will experience the refining… They will come through this and out of this stripped of their hardened categories and ready for a new way and a new day… stripped of the weight and sin that so easily holds the back – ready to run with endurance the race that is set before them as they look to Jesus who is not only the author, but the finisher of their faith. Those who claim to be followers of Jesus and who have placed the entirety of your faith on Him – remain in Him… blessing Him for His goodness and faithfulness. He will keep us alive and will not allow our feet to slip… and He will bring us out on the other side gloriously transformed and new, blessed to be a blessing to the rest of the world, and filled with His abundance.