Luke 15 v 2. “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.”
Unwittingly, these Pharisees put their finger on the very issue that makes Christianity both so winsome to some, and also such a scandal to others. This man, Jesus, welcomes sinners!
What follows now is meant to underscore the magnitude of God’s grace and tremendous joy God expresses in the salvation of any person, but first we must look at the amazing little scenario Luke presents us with, in the opening verses.
It is a simple scene. A group of outcasts is gathered around Jesus and they were apparently eating together. Surely this cannot be, a Pharisee would have thought. This teacher is supposed to be a holy man! What on earth is he doing with people such as these! The religion of men which is hard, legalistic and exclusive – and the Grace of God, which is magnanimous and inclusive. What is the whole idea of salvation all about? Is it not to save and redeem lost people? If so, then does it not make more sense for Jesus to be mingling and dealing with people who are lost, than meeting exclusively with the upright, decent, Christian people?
Yes, but Pharisees and teachers of the law could not see that. Even to this day the self-righteous and the legalistic aloof people cannot see the eternal value of lost people. Has it not occurred to you that the street people, the homeless or even those low-life family members we do not like to speak to are people who will live forever? It is true that sometimes it is beyond us to reach them for we have neither the personal power nor the gifts and skills needed to communicate with them. But we must never lose sight of the fact that these people are souls. They need to be redeemed.
We should also remember that Luke wants us to understand that even the most religious, upright and classy people we know are, once all the glitziness has been stripped away, nothing but lost and helpless sinners themselves. So that person in your life who is so independent, aloof, self-righteous, never admitting a need for or an interest in God, is all the same a lost and ignorant person who will one day come to the end of their earthly life, but will yet live forever.
But notice the arrogance of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, in these opening verses. “He eats and drinks with sinners” they say. Too right, He did for that is why He came – to redeem sinners. But their comment and their love indicate that they do not see themselves as sinners. That appellation was for others. They themselves, in their opinion, did not fall into that category.
How blind people can be. How prone to judge others by circumstances and to make false assessments of ourselves. The person who thinks they do not need to be redeemed by Christ is under the spell of the most fatal of all delusions.
Remember that when you deal with friends or family always ask God to keep you humble and believing.