“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:2)
The religious leaders assumed that when Jesus ate with openly known sinners — tax collectors, prostitutes, etc. — that He condoned their lifestyles. They totally missed the point that He came to them because they needed His light to shine on their darkness. He wasn’t approving of their character but pointing to Himself, the way out of their situation. They would experience the reality that when a person is confronted by Jesus, they don’t stay the same. They are changed for the better.
Aren’t we glad that Jesus welcomes and eats with sinners — because we are them? We are all sinful and unclean and need His presence. We need Him in our lives and He invites us to eat with Him at His communion table. The wonderful message of God to the world is that Jesus came for sinners, and since we are sinners, that means us. Now the question becomes, are we comfortable with welcoming and eating with other openly known sinners? Are we as comfortable with it as Jesus was? Are we willing to shine His light upon their darkness, a light of love?
Heavenly Father, help us live the love of Jesus. Help us die to our ideas of superiority and recognize that our sinfulness is as great as anyone’s. Help us have an understanding heart but also help us to not approve of actions that displease You. Help us live to Your glory and be Your light, the Light of Christ, in the world.
In His name.
Pastor Robert Forsberg is retired from Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Fairborn.