Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
This Man Welcomes Sinners
My oldest daughter started high school this fall. Though I am thankful that she can attend a Christian high school, I still grow concerned as a father. I know that she is a sinner like me. I know that her judgment, like mine, is not always perfectly wise. I know that the devil has his sights set on her, ready to unleash his flaming arrows. He wants to lay traps of temptation for her that, perhaps, I never faced in my youth.
One of the important pieces of advice that we parents give our children is to choose their friends carefully. Whom you will spend time with—no matter how old you are—can make a big difference in how much you leave yourself open to Satan’s attacks.
As I think about the verses in today’s text, I wonder if I would have wanted my daughter to be hanging around with Jesus and the people he spent time with. These were people who were known for immoral living. No self-respecting prophet would associate with them. No godly parent would let his children be around them.
Or would they? Jesus saw such people and loved them. He didn’t condone or encourage their immorality. He called their sin, sin. He lovingly and patiently called them to confess their wrongs, receive his forgiveness, and live a new life of faith.
By spending time with them, Jesus was showing love for their souls lost in sin, the unconditional love that we so desperately need. If Jesus only loved certain sinners, why would I think he loves me? But Jesus wants all sinners to turn from their sins and be saved. He came to love me and forgive me. And he calls me to love others, as I have been loved.
May God lead our children to choose wisely those with whom they will spend their time. And may God give to our children and to us a heart that rejoices in his boundless love and reflects that love to all people.
Dear Jesus, friend of sinners, as you have loved and forgiven me, lead me to love and forgive others. Amen.
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