ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

LEVI AND THE PHARISEES

Jesus Christ is the great leveller: those who are high and mighty he pulls down; those who are down and out he lifts up.

But in this very act of equalizing, of exposing us all as condemned sinners and offering us all the same liberating identity as sinners saved by grace and called 'saints' by the holy God, he offends and appears to polarize people into two extremes.

Those who think they are, in themselves, 'good enough', and who believe that their concept of 'god' is fine, are offended by his message that we all, including the 'good', including the 'religious', must repent and believe not in our own gods, not in our goodness, but exclusively in him.

On the other hand, those who hear what he is saying when he claims that only in him is the one true God known, those who hear what he is saying when he teaches that only his death is a ransom sufficient to pay for our sins and obtain our forgiveness, those who of us who thus believe in him, are liberated from ever again having to trust in our own 'gods' and our own goodness.

Thus, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, trusting in their own concept of 'god' and in their own goodness, could not handle the love and liberty of Jesus Christ and the joy of Levi who had recently put his trust in Jesus Christ.

Trusting in their own 'god' concept and their own goodness they stood and criticized both Jesus and Levi and his friends.

Levi, on the other hand, set free from all of his erroneous 'god' concepts by the knowledge of God in Christ, and liberated forever from the heavy and impossible necessity of having to trust in his own goodness to get himself reconnected to God, celebrated his freedom with a party, and shared his joy with his friends.

While those who assumed themselves to be 'righteous' and 'healthy' stood in the deathly cold confines of their self-conceit, Levi, who knew himself to be sick and sinful, found the warmth of significance and shelter in the Saviour of sinners, Jesus Christ.

Scriptures: Matthew 19:30; 20:16; Romans 3:22-24; John 8:18-24; Mark 10:45; Romans 3:19-20; Galatians 2:20-21; Luke 5:27-32.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008