Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”Luke 15:1-2
What a picture these first two verses paint. A scene simultaneously full of grace and grumbling. Often times while studying these parables and other interactions with Pharisees, we find it easier to view ourselves as the sinners seeking Jesus. Not necessarily because we enjoy identifying as sinners (though that is what we all are), but at least the “sinners” in these passages were actively seeking Jesus not judging Him. You see, the Pharisees were just as much a group of sinners as the motley group Jesus often tended to, but the difference was that they viewed themselves as men who were, well, better. They fancied themselves as understanding the Law and as great achievers at following it. So it angered them to see lowly tax collectors, prostitutes, and beggars receiving the grace and love that Jesus offered. If anyone should receive anything, it should be them.
But should it? Here’s the thing…every individual is of greatest importance to Jesus. The beauty of the gospel is that God provided a solution to our great sin problem and Jesus offers forgiveness to those that repent and seek to follow Him. As Jesus systematically tears down the legalistic religious structure the Pharisees had built and so proudly stood on, He reminded them, and us, of the value even one lost soul has to the Father. That it’s impossible to serve two masters. That there is a difference between earthly and worldly treasures. That He was willing to make the greatest sacrifice, that of an underserved death, to pay the penalty for even the most wretched sinner.
Will you take the time to clear your vision and seek Jesus? Wherever we fall in the spectrum of characters, our goal should be the same–seeking to glorify Jesus and humbly loving our neighbors as we share the gift of grace that Jesus has so generously provided.