1 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1–2, NKJV)
Yes, Jesus ate with sinners (including Pharisees, Luke 7:36-50). On this occasion, the Pharisees and scribes charged Jesus with giving credence to sin by being with sinners. With a contemporary twist on this worn out accusation, people today say that since “Jesus ate with sinners” we should have no problem doing so. They fail to see why the tax collectors and sinners drew close to Jesus. They came to listen to the teaching of Jesus (verse 1)! It is not uncommon for worldly people to try to draw Christians into compromising situations by saying, “Jesus ate with sinners – why won’t you?” When you offer Christ’s teachings as your topic of conversation with them, they refuse. Why? Because that is not what they want. They are not like the sinners with whom Jesus ate. Instead, they want you to accept them in their sin (or at least, they want you to say nothing about it to them). If you agree to such a silent, social interchange you weaken your godly influence and give the worldly person an opportunity to claim your approval, merely because you ate with them. When Jesus ate with sinners He talked with them about their souls, repentance and salvation (Lk. 15:3-7). That should be our topic of conversation with sinners, too.
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8, NKJV)
Without strength. Ungodly. Sinners. Such was our spiritual condition when Christ died for us. We are impotent to save ourselves from our sins. Ungodliness is powerless to cleanse the ungodly. Sinners are incapable of freeing themselves from the bondage of sin. We were neither righteous nor good when Christ died for us. That Christ died for us cannot be attributed to our own righteousness or goodness. It can only be ascribed to the great and matchless love of God. The defining trait of God’s love is that He sent His Son to die for us when we were His unloving, unlovable enemies (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). The depth of God’s love for us compels us to love one another, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). Love is not merely stated, it is demonstrated. God has shown us true love. Now, let us go and love as He has loved us.
23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,” (Romans 3:23–25, NKJV)
The reality of sin in our lives makes it impossible for us to ever earn our way to heaven. God, out of His great love for us, provides sinners (us) with redemption from sin in Christ Jesus. His grace, freely given, justifies through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Since not everyone is saved (Jesus said few find the way to life, Matthew 7:14), it necessarily follows that sinners have a responsibility to respond to the gospel call to be saved in His Son. God’s grace is available to sinners in the blood of Jesus Christ, by which God’s wrath against sin is appeased (that’s propitiation). Redemption by the blood of Christ (His death) is obtained when we are “baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). The action of faith that brings the sinner into contact with the atoning blood of Jesus, is baptism. We need God’s grace to be justified from our sins. Without grace, we are lost. Grace is available to all, and is received by those who “fear God, and keep His commandments” (Acts 10:34-35). Thank God, that He has revealed His plan to redeem us in His Son.
16 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 and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Mark 2:16–17, NKJV)
We hear people telling us we should accept and befriend those who live in immorality, because after all, “Jesus ate with sinners.” Yes, He did. But, the question that needs to answered is, “Why did Jesus eat with sinners?” Was it to condone, tolerate, and even commend them in their sins? Today’s verse explains why He ate with them. If people would accept His explanation, they would stop claiming Jesus was tolerant of sinful diversity. The people Jesus ate with were sin sick. Eating with them was the Great Physician’s opportunity to call them to repentance and salvation. He was not “accepting them as they were.” Jesus was not opening the door to immorality without repentance and conversion. Without a doubt, Jesus loves sinners. He showed that love by teaching them God’s truth about sin and God’s mercy. He called them to repentance. He did not comfort them in their sin. When we teach a sinner the truth about his sin, and call him to repent and be saved, we are loving him the way Jesus loved sinners. That’s why Jesus ate with sinners. Is that why you eat with sinners?
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15, NKJV)
From heads of state to lowly peasants, pleas for peace are heard around the world. God, in the gospel of Christ, has sent the world a message of real and lasting peace; a peace that is formed between God and sinners. Peace requires at least two things. First, removal of the adversarial conflict must occur. The fighting must end. Paul draws from the prophet Nahum, who saw the feet of the messenger who announced that God was about to remove brutal Assyria from the scene; God judged and destroyed the adversary (Nahum 1:12-15). Even so, sin has put us at war with God. The oppressive yoke of sin must be broken in order for peace with God to exist. The enemy of sin was defeated at the cross of Jesus. Secondly, sin’s conflict must be replaced with the tranquility of divine fellowship. Even so, Paul calls upon Isaiah 52:7, as Isaiah spoke of the beautiful feet that proclaim salvation to Zion, because, “Your God reigns.” The gospel of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness, replacing alienation with peaceful harmony between God and those who are saved in the Son. What beautiful news of peace we proclaim!
25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. 26 For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. (Proverbs 6:25–26, NKJV)
Yielding to fleshly lust is a losing proposition. What appears so appealing and promising such satisfaction, invariably causes pain, sorrow, regret and loss. How many men have literally squandered a fortune on the fleeting fantasies of the flesh? The passion of lust promises pleasure but produces the spiritual bondage and death of sin. Many men and women have been led to the depths of disgrace and despair by its sordid appeal. Sin, whatever form it takes, is never a good deal. Today’s verse reminds us that even more than material poverty, lust bears fruit that brings a person spiritual shame and deprivation. Thanks be to God there is a Savior who lifts sinners out of the muck and mire of sin. Jesus Christ forgives sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)! Trust and obey Him; not the lusts of the world (1 Jno 2:15-17).
1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1–3, NKJV)
The horror inflicted upon these worshiping Galileans by Pilate did not mean they were worse sinners than everyone else. The misfortune of others is not our solace when bad things do not happen to us. It is easy to measure ourselves against others. We can always point to someone and perceive them and their sin to be worse than ourselves. By doing so, we can rationalize our own sins, while continuing in them, unabated. Jesus emphatically says this is distorted thinking that will condemn us. Unless we repent of our sins, we will perish – regardless of what others do or do not do. Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to the “perfect law of liberty” (the gospel), and correct yourself by doing God’s will (Jas. 1:22-25). Otherwise, “you will all likewise perish.”