Devotion for Saturday after Ash Wednesday

After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.
And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” ~ Luke 5:27-32

We can read this and think we’re not as bad as tax collectors. While we may not like the IRS today, tax collectors in ancient Israel were far different. They didn’t follow the law to make the people pay their justly due taxes; they extorted money from their own people and collected taxes for the hated Romans. We’re law-abiding, and we’re not traitors to our people. Are we really among the tax collectors and sinners that were so shocking for Jesus to dine with? Well, yes, we are. And so were the scribes and Pharisees if they had but admitted it. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. “There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3) Praise God that Jesus came to call us to repentance, and when we repent He forgives our sins and washes us clean in His precious blood.

Father God, it’s so easy for me to compare myself to other people rather than to Your holy standard. I may look good compared to criminals, but in Your eyes, I am equally guilty. Pierce my heart with sorrow for my sins, forgive me for the evil I have done and the good I have not done, and turn me to You, Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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