Thu Jan 20-The Courage to Cross

Mark 2:15-17 (CEB)

15 Jesus sat down to eat at Levi’s house. Many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples. Indeed, many of them had become his followers. 16 When some of the legal experts from among the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why is he eating with sinners and tax collectors?”

17 When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.”


Few things are more important to a middle schooler than their lunch table. Do you remember? Who you sat with was a VERY big deal.

I remember having a falling out with some friends during 8th grade, and having to make the difficult decision to switch tables. I can still picture myself approaching one of the kids I knew at the table I was trying to get into and asking, “What would you think if I joined you?” I was so relieved when he made it clear he’d be happy to welcome me – and that he’d talk to the others for me too. I remember sitting down awkwardly that first day, hoping it would work out, hoping I’d be accepted.

It takes courage to sit down at a different table. And it takes courage to welcome someone different to yours.

Jesus, thoughout his ministry, welcomed everyone to his table. This was a big deal, because in his time, who you chose to eat with said a lot about you – not only your social standing, but also your religious commitments. It was expected that the pious would only share a table with the pious. To do otherwise was to risk criticism and censure, because you were judged by the company you kept. So when Jesus, a respected rabbi, consistently chose to eat with “outcasts” – those others thought were sinful – it was no small thing.

It takes courage to switch lunch tables, or welcome someone new to ours. It takes courage to cross the lines that the others draw to box us in, or to keep others out. It’s the courage that Jesus himself was known for. And when I read the New Testament, it’s clear to me that this courage was a hallmark of the early church – crossing the lines in order to welcome everyone to the table.

Who will you invite to sit with you at lunch today?

By Joe Monahan

For Pondering & Prayer

Consider the following poem, attributed to Edwin Markham:

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!”

Prayer: God, grant me the courage today to cross the lines that others have drawn. Amen.

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