He ate with sinners!
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” NIV
He ate with sinners! That was one of the many charges the religious establishment brought against Jesus during His earthly ministry. The unspoken presumption was that, surely, God who is holy and righteous would never deign to mix with sinners. And because He chose to mix with sinners, this Jesus was a false messiah.
His response shocked them all: I came for such as these, He declared. Sinners were the passion of His heart. Sinners were the focus of His ministry, the object of His love, the purpose of His death on the cross. It was not that He loved them for their sin but that He loved them too much to leave them in their sin.
God knows the consequences of sin. He watched sin destroy His beautiful creation. He watched sin enslave His beloved people. He saw the heavy burden that sin had brought upon the people, the pain and anguish it caused. He saw how sin tainted everything it touched with death and decay. And He saw how it separated people from His beloved Father. Their only hope of escape, of redemption, of reconciliation with God was for him to sit with sinners, die for sinners and overcome sin by His love.
And so He sought them out. He loved them. He wept over them. He ministered to them. He healed their sickness and disease. He preached and taught them. He ate with them and He fed them. And when the time came, He died for them. All this that they may no longer be sinners but saints, sons and daughters of God Most High, that they may be free at last from the bondage of sin, that they may live that abundant life the Father had purposed for them from the very beginning.
He ate with sinners that they may be sinners no more.
Sin is a deadly thing. It is so deadly that only the life of God’s own Son could redeem us from it. Sin is so deadly that Jesus went so far as to say: “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:30). Drastic, isn’t it?
When you came to Him, He cleansed you of all unrighteousness. Be on guard, therefore, that sin does not take you captive again. Do not be deceived that your sin will not be found out or that it doesn’t matter very much. All sin separates us from God. All sin diminishes the life of God in us. Be forever asking the Holy Spirit: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). You have been given the Blood of the Lamb; avail yourself of it and live a godly life. Take hold of that abundant life that the Father purposed for you from the beginning of creation.
Hear again Paul’s advice to Timothy: “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness , faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-13).