As we journey together through Lent, Christians throughout Columbia will be sharing their own beautifully written ‘letters from the heart.’ Each will be accompanied by a corresponding relevant scripture, and linked to sources for further study. If you would like to join us on Columbia’s Lenten journey, please send me your ‘letter from the heart’ by email. Especially meaningful submissions will be printed. Let us continue our Lenten journey, day by day, to its glorious culmination on Easter morning.
Today’s scripture reading is from the Gospel of Mark 2:13-22: And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the [son] of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard [it], he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse .And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
Lent is a time of reflection, repentance and spiritual renewal. In this reading Jesus invited Levi, a reviled tax collector, to follow him. To follow Jesus means discipleship. Levi did not ask Jesus to forgive him, and repentance is not mentioned. Yet Jesus’ ministry is about forgiveness.
Lent is a time when each one of us can reflect on repentance and God’s grace and forgiveness. Jesus ate with Levi and other sinners. Levi probably told his friends about Jesus, and they joined in fellowship together. Each of us can tell others what Jesus has done and is doing in each of our own lives. The scribes, experts on Jewish law, criticized what Jesus was doing with Levi and others. Yet Jesus knew then, and Jesus knows now, about the importance of forgiveness of sin. His cross and resurrection are central to forgiveness of sins and new life in Him.
Just as this reading refers to new wine and new fabric, Jesus offers something new, the newness found in changed and transformed lives of those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ life and ministry He also brought hope for a transformed world and social justice. Lent is a time to reflect on a renewed relationship with God and our neighbor, and the hope of a world transformed by Christ.
Tucker Center and Nursing Home
South Carolina Department of Mental Health
Columbia, South Carolina
If you enjoyed this Lenten meditation, you can find more at Sharon's Columbia Biblical Studies Examiner homepage.