Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper – January 17, 2023

By January 17, 2023 No Comments



14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Mark 2:14-16

We see two things in this passage; first, we see the call of Levi to follow Jesus(later, he will be referred to as Matthew), and second, we see Jesus at the dinner table at Levi’s home with some of his friends. 

Both the call of Levi and Jesus meal with them would have been scandalous to the first-century observer. Here is why:

  1. Levi is a tax collector. Specifically, Levi is collecting taxes (essentially a sales tax) for Rome, which is the current regime that is oppressing the Jewish people. Further, tax collectors would be known to upcharge the tax and keep the profit for themselves. Tax collectors were despised among the Jewish people as greedy traitors who took advantage of their own people.
  2. The Table is at the center of Jewish life. To sit down and share a meal was a symbol of friendship and fellowship. It did not just entail sharing of food, but sharing of each other’s lives. It was about communion with one another (that word should sound familiar!).

We see in verse 16 that the scribes of the pharisee do not understand why Jesus would associate with tax collectors and sinners. It’s similar to our modern-day idea of “guilt by association”. Since Jesus is fellowshipping with these people, then he is, by extension, guilty of these same crimes if not condoning them by his presence. But this thinking is faulty.

If Jesus feared guilt by association then he would have stayed in heaven. 

Every person on planet earth is sinful and broken. Jesus is perfect, fully God and fully man. Coming to earth and communing with anyone would be an issue of guilt by association. But praise be to God that he does not keep us at arm’s length but invites in into his family.

Here are two takeaways from this passage:

  1. Jesus wants to sit at YOUR TABLE. He wants to look you in the eyes and hear your story. He loves you right where you are but love you way too much to let you stay there.

  2. As followers of Jesus, we should be sitting at tables just like Jesus. 

Here is a system developed by Dave Ferguson to get around tables like this. It’s the acronym BLESS:

B- begin with Prayer (pray by name for the people in your life)

L – listen (listen to them and ask questions)

E – eat (sit around a table and enjoy each others company)

S – serve (how can you serve them, physically, emotionally, or spiritually?)

S – share (share the gospel with them)

May we be people who are in the world but not of the world!


Our Father,

Thank you for your Word. We pray that by your Spirit, Mark 2:14-16 would change us into the likeness of Christ. We look to Christ as our example, who sits at the tables of sinners and loves them passionately. We pray you help us to be these kinds of people. Father, we pray this now through The Son, and By the Spirit. Amen.


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