Tax collectors, outcasts and prostitutes…what was Jesus thinking?

“Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers.

The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: ‘What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?’” Mark 2:15-16, The Message

What a reputation Jesus was earning for Himself! Jesus begins his public ministry and sets his own standard for us to follow – a new hands-on approach. His response to the “social issues” of his day was in direct contrast to the “norm” which the Pharisees had established.

The word reputation is defined as, “the general estimation that the public has for a person.” It is a judgment of how we see people behaving – it reflects outward behaviour. Jesus’ whole message to us primarily involves our inner selves – the lives we live when no one is looking, or in another words, Jesus calls us to a life of integrity. Integrity is described as having moral soundness – it comprises the personal inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from honesty and consistent uprightness of character.

I believe that Jesus did not care about his reputation (which could be described as scandalous) – his concern was for the souls of those around him, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.” Mark 2:17, The Message

The second sentence in the opening passage intrigues me, “Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers.” I think it is safe to assume that some of these guests had not become followers, but just enjoyed being around Jesus. I don’t believe that Jesus treated them any differently from the others who were gathered. He continued to extend the Kingdom of God by being among them and accepting them without requiring that they clean up their lives first.

Jesus was showing us, through his own example, how to be light in very dark places. That is what this issue of the MOSAIC focuses on – expanding our circles of influence in order to share the love of Christ unconditionally with others.

Lisa Howden, Managing Editor