And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.
As Jesus’ ministry began to grow, so did the number of outsiders who followed Him. Tax collectors and sinners were also followers of Jesus. People who had been considered unclean and impure, ostracized by the religious leadership of the time, found a place of belonging with Jesus.
There is something to be said for those who found themselves most at home with Jesus. The sick, not the well. The sinner, not the righteous. How? Why?
Jesus taught with authority. Jesus didn’t water down the message of sin and repentance, or go out of his way to be politically correct. So how was it that people in sin, and labeled as sinners still wanted to be with Him? Love. Jesus’ message was not only that sin was damaging and dividing to a relationship with God but that God loved them enough to offer them forgiveness. Jesus exercised a power to forgive. This was unique from the scribes and Pharisees. They only pointed fingers. Jesus pointed people back to God. Sinners wanted to come home and Jesus offered them a way home.
Why? This in fact was and still is His mission. The ministry of Jesus does start with identifying the greatest issue and problem in our lives. This is uncomfortable and difficult. We have issues. We have sin. We have fallen short. However, He doesn’t leave us there. His message identifies the problem but also offers the only solution that works. Forgiveness through Him. He is the only one with authority to forgive.
A few things…
-If my version of Jesus attracts religious people and repels sinners, something is wrong with my version of Jesus.
-If my ministry points fingers instead of pointing to the Father, then I am pointing to the wrong thing.
-Jesus has authority to forgive sin. I must not squander the chance to experience forgiveness by ignoring the sin in my life and the life of others.
Father thank you for your word. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for using your authority to heal and rescue. May I find rest in you and not restrict other sinners from finding rest in following you as well.