“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
In the Spring of 2011, we were busy fixing up our house so that we could put it on the market to sell. We were living in a very old home and it needed a lot of work. We had all kinds of workmen coming through our home doing different kinds of work to help us make our house attractive.
I love meeting new people. I especially love building friendships with the people who come to do work at our house. One such worker was a man name Mike. Mike was from Arlington, TX and had spent the majority of his life as a “Tape and Bedder”. A “Tape and Bedder” is someone who specialized in installing and repairing sheetrock and plaster. We had hired Mike to repair numerous cracks in our walls and ceiling.
One day Mike asked me what I did for living. I told him that I was a minister—a preacher of God’s Word. When Mike learned that I was a minister, he wanted to enter into a “spiritual” conversation. He began to tell me how he had played for years in a praise band at his church. He said, “I love Jesus. I do my best to follow Jesus. Jesus and I are on the same page with nearly everything but there is one area where He and I differ.” I can’t recall anyone ever saying anything quite so interesting with regard to his relationship with Jesus.
I couldn’t wait to hear what Mike had to say next. Mike then said, “Jesus loves thieves but I hate them.” I thought that was a rather odd comment to make until Mike began to tell me about all the work equipment thieves had stolen from him through the years. Over the next few days I reflected upon my conversation with Mike and his hatred for thieves. I consider myself to be a pretty gracious person. In my heart I was thinking: “Well Mike, Jesus and I are on the same page on everything including our love for thieves.”
A few days later I walked out to my tool shed to get my lawnmower and when I opened the door I was amazed by how clean it looked. It typically looked cluttered and crammed with equipment but not on this day. I wondered who would have possibly cleaned up my tool shed. I began to scan around to see if anything was missing.
Low and behold several items were gone. Wells’ mountain bike was nowhere to be found. My Stihl backpack blower was gone as well. I tried to make sense of all of this and then suddenly I realized what had happened. We’d been robbed. I was full of anger and resentment toward the thieves who had done this. I wanted them to pay. My heart began to fill with hatred and then I remembered Mike’s words. I said to myself, “you know what Mike—I hate thieves too.” How about you? Do you hate thieves or do you love them like Jesus does?
I never really thought that much about this passage in Mark 2 until the things I loved (too much) were stolen. Then it hit me—Jesus loves thieves?
After all, Levi and the other tax collectors were thieves. They made their money through organized crime. They stole from others in order to make themselves rich. How could Jesus love people like that?
I’m embarrassed to tell you that it wasn’t hard for me to believe that Jesus could love me. I love me! What’s not to love? Then I looked a little closer at the passage and realized two things. First, there’s a lot not to love about me. Secondly, I’m a thief too. I’m sorry to tell you this, but so are you.
We are all thieves. I now understand that that’s the best bad news I could ever think of hearing (or sharing).
Jesus came to bring hope to the hopeless, to bring salvation to sinners, to give good news to people whose lives are bad news. I’m so glad that Jesus loves thieves and all kinds of sinners. I hope you are too.