(Post 2 of the Luke 15:1-7 series of 5) I have been, and I am, like the “tax collector” and a sinner in the parable below.
“Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear him. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable: “Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent” (Luke 15:1-7).
Tax collectors were Jewish people who worked for the overarching Roman government of that day—about 2000 years ago. They collected taxes from their fellow Jews and gave the taxes to the Roman government, after first skimming off excessive amounts for themselves. In essence, tax collectors became wealthy at the expense of their people.
I have never had a job as a tax collector, but I know I have ripped people off—not financially as much as within my mind and my spirit as I had improperly negative thoughts about them, and as I perhaps even degraded them with my words of negative rumor or gossip. Through this, I took from them who I believe are each specially designed in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
The sinners were people who did not live by what were understood as the proper moral and religious codes of the day. I suppose some of the sinners clearly lived a “messy” life. Others were viewed unfavorably by the religious leaders as non-synagogue—non-church—people.
I have been, I am, a sinner.
Needless to say, the tax collectors and sinners in Luke 15:1 were despised. Most of society, certainly including the moral and religious people, looked down upon the tax collectors and sinners. I must admit that I cannot relate to the tax collectors and sinners in feeling heavy disgust from others. However, I know of many who can relate to that; it must be a terrible feeling!
But, at the same time they were in a GREAT place, welcomed at Jesus’ dining table as His friends! As a forgiven child of God, I concur—that is a most wonderful place, available to every person. Wondering how? Click here: Searching? Consider this…, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss it further.