Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Ones who Follow

He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 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. 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. 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?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:13-22

When you are one of a large family, you are always identified with the group. After 36 years of marriage, the folks in this small town still call me by my "maiden" name. To them I will always be a Theobald, and my children with me, one of the clan, and our home the home of the bicycle parade. We are all identified with our families and groups and our behavoir is judged from the persepctive of that family. When I was a young adult I loathed being lumped in with my whole family,and now I know it as an honor, but it is also a huge responsibility.

Jesus hung with the outcasts of society and he was constantly being berated by religious leaders for his choice of friends and family. They must have been furious with his calling of the tax collector and tried to insult Jesus by comparing him to John, his cousin, being help up as the family ideal. Jesus understood their true motivations and did not let others' judgement cloud his compassion for all or his willingness to celebrate with the lowly. His followers were made family, brought close to his heart, and he held them close. He knew his followers needed a savior.

Today I want to rejoice in being a follower, one of the clan, a member of a motley and confusing family, all in need of the Savior. I am so grateful for God's willingness to sit with the outcasts, to love the unlovely, and to rejoice with the poor. May we not judge those who would follow, but rather give thanks for their faithfulness and our membership in such a family to which none are excluded.

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