I am writing devotionals for our Mission Trip this summer, here is one of the days devotionals:
I want to our focus our attention to these three stories today. The leper, the crippled man, and Levi. All three are outsiders if you will. Outsiders typically weren’t shown much respect or concern. All three are crippled in some respect. While the leper may have use of his legs, he is crippled socially from those he loves. How long has it been since he has got to hug his wife, and kids, or kiss them goodnight? Until one day! The man paralyzed and on a mat, you recognize right away what his ailment is. But, overtime his condition has crippled his hope. Permanently parked on a paralytic mat is his past, present and future, until one day! Then there is Levi, he is a tax collector. He does the Roman’s dirty work and certainly is cut off from relationships with his people. He is seen as a traitor, and in many ways worse than his oppressive Roman overlords. That is until one day!
The one day I am mentioning is the day they had an encounter with Jesus. Jesus was and is the presence of God. He has announced the arrival of the inbreaking of the kingdom of God, and now he begins to demonstrate what God’s inbreaking kingdom looks like. Lepers touched, and freed from their illness, and social isolation. Paralytics made whole, and able to walk. Tax collectors invited to follow Jesus. Whereas Levi was used to investing his people’s money, now God has showed up to invest in him.
There’s one more image from this chapter that is crucial for us to grasp, that is of the table! The last thing we read Jesus doing in this chapter is intentionally choosing to position himself among the overlooked, oppressed, and outcasts of his world. Jesus throws a dinner party for the sin-sick and socially isolated. The table becomes a place of healing and hope for those who once had no hope. Why does Jesus intentionally seek out those no one else will? Because the inbreaking kingdom reign of God is about putting the world back together again, about restoration and recreation. The inbreaking kingdom reign of God is about healing of the nations and the earth. God is on the move to restore the Edenic peace that was present at the beginning. He is doing this in and through Jesus, and through the church. We get to be a part of God’s good news of his inbreaking kingdom reign.