According to the Gospel of Mark, at this point Jesus has called four disciples – Simon, Andrew, James and John. Everywhere that they go, Jesus attracts more and more people. All kinds of people sit and listen to him talk, but when it’s time to move on to the next place, it always seems like it’s the most awkward and unhealthy types that keep following along. It seems like these outcasts are willing to follow Jesus wherever he goes.
So they’re walking along – Jesus, Simon, Andrew, James and John, along with a bunch of dirty people, blind people, women with kids, prostitutes, you name it, they were part of the crowd. Simon and the other guys couldn’t figure out why those people would want to follow Jesus.
Really, what are they thinking?
It’s not like they can actually understand what Jesus was talking about. The scribes and pharisees barely get what he’s talking about. Oh well. They probably don’t have jobs; guess there’s nothing better for them to do and they’re not hurting anything.
Now the disciples can’t figure the crowd out, but the crowd can’t figure out the disciples either.
What are they thinking?
How long is this going to last before they chase us off and call us dogs and trash and whores? Why haven’t they done that already? Don’t they know what kind of people we are?
As the disciples nod uncomfortably and offer the crowd the kind of friendliness you can pick up from good Christian kids at a soup kitchen, they clench their teeth and hold their tongues.
For real, what is Jesus thinking?
Doesn’t he know what kind of people they are? Doesn’t he know that this is totally going to mess with his reputation? I’m mean, sure, it’s great to show them sympathy, but these people are going to make all of us unclean! Doesn’t Jesus know this?
I picture Jesus walking up at the front of the pack; maybe the disciples are directly behind him, maybe not. Either way, I’m sure they are kind of whispering back and forth to each other trying to sort this all out. They’re half paying attention to Jesus, half talking to each other out of the side of their mouths, when all of a sudden Jesus says, “Hey you! Levi! Follow me”
“Follow me?” What? This goes beyond just letting the guy follow them around. Jesus directly called him. Jesus just called a tax collector just like he called James and John and Simon and Andrew. The same way that he had called them.
But they weren’t tax collectors. They were better than that. For starters, they were honest hard workers. They were fisherman. They didn’t have notorious reputations. Heck, they didn’t really have a reputation either way. And now Jesus is asking a guy like Levi to join their ranks. I don’t know about you, but I bet they were asking,
What is he thinking?
Okay, so there’s our group – Jesus, the disciples, Levi and this band of ragamuffins. They walk some more and end up at Levi’s place. I don’t know if it was on the way or Levi was just so excited that he was like “Hey, come on Jesus, everyone can come over to my place to eat tonight.” It doesn’t really matter; just off they go and then they wind up at Levi’s.
So they’re all at Levi’s having dinner. The disciples must have be off to the side or mixed in with the party somewhere else, because the passage tells us that Jesus is surrounded on all sides by folks like the tax collectors and other sinners.
No doubt the Pharisees hear about this little shindig and get a little bent out of shape. I can all but guarantee that this was the first thing to cross their minds –
What is he thinking?!
So they sent their little lackeys, the scribes, to go find out what was going on. The scribes show up at Levi’s dinner party, take one look at whose hanging around and then said to each other,
What is this guy thinking?!
I mean, this Jesus could be a legit rabbi, a Pharisee. He’s smart enough, suave enough. He knows how to get things done. Why would he be wasting all that on these people?
One of them jabs the other in the ribs and says, “Umm, he says he’s the son of God I think that’s why.”
The other one looks back, rolling his eyes and says, “Oh yeah. I forgot.”
What is this guy thinking?
Then one of the scribes walks very inconspicuously towards John or Simon and asks him,
What is he thinking?
Why is he eating with sinners and tax collectors? The disciple’s mouth just drops, and he stammers a little bit and then Jesus comes over. He looks the scribes squarely in the eyes and boldy says,
What are you thinking?
Do you think the healthy and righteous need more help than the sinners and sick? What’s wrong with you?
What are you thinking?
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