Mark 2:13-17Jesus went out again along the seashore; and all the multitude kept gathering about Him, and He kept teaching them. And as He was passing by, He saw Levi (Matthew) son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, Follow Me! [Be joined to Me as a disciple, side with My party!] And he arose and joined Him as His disciple and sided with His party and accompanied Him. (AMP)
It is pretty amazing to be singled out from a multitude of people and to be invited to a party. It is interesting to consider who Jesus invites and how He does it. I love how the Amplified version puts it: "side with My party."
Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector, the sinner and not the religious scribes. Matthew's response is to leave his table and follow Jesus. Contrast this with the scribes, who, as the Amplified Bible puts it, are "belonging to the party of the Pharisees." Unlike Matthew, who recognizes the good news of Jesus calling him, the scribes sit in judgment of Jesus and criticize Him, saying, "Why does He eat and drink with tax collectors and notorious sinners?" Scribes do not side with Jesus' party but instead, belong to another. One has to pick a party. One or the other and not both.
Out of the multitude, Jesus calls us too, to "side with His party." Or we can choose to sit with those others who judge and criticize. And do not be deceived, if we side with Jesus' party, we will also be judged and criticized as well. Worse, when we extend love and mercy and compassion to those who are of the more notorious kind of sinners, we can be misunderstood even by those who claim to believe the Good News.
Thank You, Jesus, for calling me too! Yes, I am glad to follow and side with Your party. But Beloved, sometimes it is difficult to deal with the criticism in a way that honors You, with a peaceful confidence that You are with me. Help me, Beloved! Give me your power to love the those who still have not chosen Your party and to help them to see Your beauty by the type of life I lead and the love I show them. Help me to keep on and not to give up hope. Help me to be patient and trust in You and Your perfect timing!