"You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
Text: 1 Peter 2:5
ANOTHER UNPLEASANT ENCOUNTER
Many saw Jesus dining with Levi and his friends. Some may have been puzzled as to how Jesus could mix with the tax collectors and their circle of friends. Among the people who witnessed this incident were some scribes and Pharisees. Mark noted their consternation in the following text.
“And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating
with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples,
‘How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors
1. An escalation of sorts
There is little question that the opponents of Jesus were not retreating in defeat. The scribes were not able to give an appropriate reply to Jesus when He spoke about the Son of Man and the powers that God had given to Him.
a) Silent criticism
When the scribes heard Jesus expressing forgiveness of sins to the paralytic, they were upset with Him. In their hearts they criticized Him as a blasphemer (Cf. Mark 2:6). The negative thoughts the scribes had were the beginning of their negative attitude toward Jesus.
b) Open criticism
On this occasion, a group of scribes was accompanied by Pharisees. It is possible that the scribes brought in “reinforcement” so they might feel more emboldened to attack Jesus. The Pharisees formed a religious sect that believed in keeping away from people like “tax collectors and sinners”. To be in their company was tantamount to being tainted by their sins.
2. Veiled criticism behind an innocent-sounding question
a) A seemingly innocuous question
The scribes and Pharisees turned to the disciples of Jesus and asked for an explanation as to why their Master dined with well-known “sinners”. They must have known that the disciples were not quite ready to come up with an answer to such a questionâ?¦ at least not at this stage of their training as disciples.
b) A judgmental attitude
Anyone who knew the scribes and Pharisees would be able to see the hidden barbs behind their question. They were casting aspersions on Jesus. They were despising Him for dining with the tax collectors and sinners. They themselves would never be found in such company. Anyone else who did was immediately suspect.