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.”
Jesus was often accused of associating with “unacceptable” people. It was a common complaint against Him, not always made out of hate. Jewish law was very specific about what to eat, how it was prepared and with whom you ate. Even after His ascension, there was still disagreement about sharing meals with those who were different. The apostles Peter and Paul had opposing opinions about eating with Gentiles (Galatians 2:11).
Jesus taught that there was no difference in people, that we are all God’s children, loved by Him, and that all are worthy of our love. This was difficult to accept for many who interpreted the law to mean that those outside of it were not to be part of their society. Jesus showed by extending and accepting hospitality with them that God wanted to share His love and His gift of salvation with everyone.
Who do we find “unacceptable”? While Jesus taught “go and sin no more”, He taught it face to face with those in need of His love and healing. In order to share the Good News, we too must go face to face with our brothers and sisters, regardless of their status or location.
Loving Lord, we are often afraid or unwilling to go to those who are different. Make us bold in Your service and send us where people need to know Your love. Amen.