Then Levi gave him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors (sinners) and others who sat down with them. And their scribes and the Pharisees (religious leaders) complained against his disciples saying, “Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5: 29 – 32.)
Those who had committed the greatest offenses were also the most eager to receive forgiveness. The prostitutes and tax-collectors, devoid of any delusions of purity, were wholly capable of conducting an honest self-appraisal. The religious leaders however, believing themselves to be righteous, refused to accept the message of repentance and reconciliation. The initial step toward the restoration of divine fellowship includes a genuine recognition of sin. Still today, those who need the greatest measure of healing, are often rejected by the self-righteous. Although most have forsaken the worst offenders, God has not abandoned them.
Many living within the boundaries of the Roman Empire had little compassion for the sick and the infirmed. There were no retirement homes, assisted living facilities, or modern hospitals. Poor sanitary practices often lead to outbreaks of disease that devastated entire towns, cities, and nations. Those who fell ill were usually abandoned by the healthy; and left to die in the streets. Still, as Christianity spread, so did mercy, compassion, and love. During a plague in Alexandria, Egypt, in 416 A.D., a group of Christians assembled to care for those who were sick. They became known as “the Parabalani” (“the reckless ones”); because in caring for the infirmed, they selflessly exposed themselves to infection. As they ministered, they undoubtedly preached the gospel; drawing many to the foot of the cross.
In similar fashion, we are called to care for the sickest of sinners; those who have been abandoned and left to die. Drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, thieves, adulterers, and fornicators are frequently the most willing recipients of God’s message of forgiveness and salvation. May we never abandon the lost; nor shun the wretched; for Jesus Christ himself loves every outcast.
“Lord Heavenly Father, may we never forget that we are but sinners, saved by Your grace. Provide us with opportunities to minister to the lost. May we have compassion on the sick and love those who are dying. May we be instruments of Your mercy; delivering Your message of salvation to the lost. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.” God bless all of you.