Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
For all their lives they had seen the righteousness of the Pharisees and the scribes on display on the street corners, in the Synagogues, and at the Temple. As tax collectors they were shunned, hated, and numbered among the sinners. They knew that the righteousness of the Pharisees could not be matched by anyone, particularly any of their own. That is until there came a teacher who spoke words of hope, words of grace, and words of redemption. This man named Jesus would actually speak with the tax collectors and the sinners. He even would eat with them in their homes. This brought on the ire of the Pharisees and they grumbled against him. There were many occasions like this that caused the Pharisees to be troubled by the associations Jesus had. On one of those occasions he told the Pharisees that he had come for the sick, not the well; that he had come to save sinners. So here’s what the Pharisees were missing – they thought they could obtain salvation because of their obedience to the law and their own righteousness. They believed that those who did not reach their level of righteousness would have no hope and the sinners agreed. But along comes Jesus and he tells the sinners and tax collectors that their righteousness needed to exceed that of the Pharisees. What? How can that be? The truth of the matter is that both the Pharisees and the sinners were in need of a savior, but only the sinners and tax collectors had come to understand that truth because they knew of their need, they knew they needed to experience the mercy of God. That’s who Jesus is seeking – sinners! Praise God he found us like the lost sheep, or the lost coin, or the prodigal son.