Luke 15:1-2 1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to
listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law
complain that he was associating with such despicable people-even eating with
Jesus is eating with the “sinners.”
Now, the Pharisees don’t like that Jesus is so accepting and eats with sinners, first of all this word “eats” had deep meaning, much deeper than it’s definition. To eat with someone at this time was to in a way to trust them and to come close to them, to become “one” with them. There wasn’t a table and two chairs and napkins. When people would eat together they would actually dip with their hands in the same bowl. They’d be sharing germs, and it was this beautiful picture of community and love. So when the Pharisees say “Jesus eats with sinners” they mean more that just that, they mean He actually enters community with them. He actually in a sense becomes one with them, one of them. (there were at least 3 hymns written just about this second verse, “Christ receiveth sinful men,” “Jesus, the sinners friends,” and “sinners, believe the gospel word”)
Jesus responds to the Pharisees, with a parable.
3 So Jesus used this illustration: 4 "If you had one hundred sheep, and one of
them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the
ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? 5 And
then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. 6 When you arrived, you
would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your
lost sheep was found. 7 In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost
sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and
haven't strayed away!"
Jesus is telling them, “guys, you’ve got it all wrong…
Jesus is saying "it’s more important to me to find a lost sheep, it’s more important to God when a “sinner” repents than someone “doesn’t need” to repent… someone who thinks they’ve got it all together… a “righteous” person." The Pharisees think they’ve got it all together.
The Kingdom of God, here, is open… Jesus is opening it up for everyone… it’s not just for the Pharisees, it’s not just for the religious, It welcomes sinners and Tax Collectors and the most despised people in the region. See, Jesus was teaching in a region called the Galilee, probably the most religious place in all of Israel in the first century. Unfortunately the more religious the area the more despised the “unreligious” were. So these Tax collectors, who were taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich, were hated. And Jesus is “eating” with them, “accepting them.”
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there
named Zacchaeus. He was one of the most influential Jews in the Roman
tax-collecting business, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look
at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowds. 4 So he ran ahead and
climbed a sycamore tree beside the road, so he could watch from there.
Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. "Zacchaeus!" he said. "Quick, come
down! For I must be a guest in your home today."
6 Zacchaeus quickly
climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the
crowds were displeased. "He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,"
8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "I
will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have overcharged people on
their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!"
responded, "Salvation has come to this home today, for this
man has shown himself to be a son of Abraham. 10 And I, the Son of Man, have
come to seek and save those like him who are lost."
Now, we don’t know what Jesus said to Zacchaeus but for some reason Zaccheaus, this rich and powerful Chief Tax Collector decides to give half of His possessions back to the Poor and make things right again. Now, let’s look at the real implications of this. First of all, the Torah (first five books of old test.) was the foundation for all they did, they believed that the Torah was the best way to live life. Now, in the Torah (Lev 25:10) there is a command that every fifth year they will have a “year of Jubilee” and erase every debt, free every slave, etc. Now, in the time of Jesus there was a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor (a very low percentage of people commanded a very large percentage of the wealth). So when Zacchaeus gives his money to the poor and sets things right he’s returning to this Idea, this way of life and Jesus says “Salvation has come to this house!”
“the Son of Man came to seek and save the LOST” is a reference to Ezekiel 34 :1-4 (REMEZ)
Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the
shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign
Lord: Destruction is certain for you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of
your flocks. Shouldn't shepherds feed their sheep? 3 You drink the milk, wear
the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. 4 You
have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the
broken bones. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are
lost. Instead, you have ruled them with force and cruelty.
Once again He’s saying “you’ve got it all wrong,” these sinners are “the lost” Zacchaeus this guy you despise… He’s who I’m here for he’s “the lost.” It’s like He’s saying; “you messed up… you didn’t do your Job.”
The Kingdom of God is for EVERYONE
8 "Or suppose a woman has ten valuable silver coins* and loses one. Won't she
light a lamp and look in every corner of the house and sweep every nook and
cranny until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends
and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has found her lost coin. 10 In the
same way, there is joy in the presence of God's angels when even one sinner
“…One sinner who repents…” precious… precious. The coin is only of small value compared to the rest. Why does she look?
One of the mysteries of God is why are we, sinners, so precious to Him? Why does He search for us, peruse us? See, God places so many things in our lives to show us that His arms are open. The Kingdom of God is for EVERYONE. No matter how bad you may be, how hated you think you are by God, His arms are open. He’s looking for you, waiting for you.
I’ve heard too many stories of people who led the worst kind of lives and allowed God to Change them to believe that there is anyone who can’t be forgiven. God came to seek and save the lost, the confused, the unwanted.
If your questions aren’t answered yet, if you just don’t understand all these things about God, you are exactly the kind of person God wants, Jesus came for. “T’shuvah”, repent, return to the life God wants for you, return to Jesus.