Today's scripture focus passage: Luke 15:1-2
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”This is the beginning of a chapter on God's joy. Something we probably don't think or hear much about. But it gives us a look at what brings God joy, and as such, shows us where our own true joy can be found.
But first we have these two verses as an introduction to that theme. Jesus is spending time with low-lifes and undesirables. Again. Giving them a message of HOPE, of all things. The Pharisees and scribes ~ the high-class, educated leaders of the time ~ are incensed. I mean, who does this guy think He is, claiming to be sent from God and surrounding Himself with the filth of society??! This was flaunting the law, their traditions, the purity and holiness of God! Pharisees wouldn't THINK of going near these people, let alone eating with them, or ~ perish the thought ~ receiving them, hosting them, in their own homes! Pharisees essentially spent their time only with other Pharisees.
MacArthur says they even had a rabbinic rule that said, "'Let not a man associate with the wicked, not even to bring him nearer to the law.' Well, that's really helpful. You're a teacher of the law and you can't associate with the wicked to bring them to the law? They were so worried about pollution that they didn't even take the law of God to the people who needed to hear it." Such sad irony.
But thank God for Jesus! Because those people who needed a message of hope... He was sent for them. Those are the kind He gravitates towards ~ the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the poor, the despised, the infirm and "unclean" ~ the people who know they cannot be clean or holy without divine help. They have no education or social status to rely on, no religious credentials. They know they can't keep all the rules because there's no way they'll ever KNOW all the rules. To these people, desperate for hope, Jesus comes. He doesn't just speak with them, but He touches them, He heals them, He shares food with them. He isn't afraid of getting dirty or disgracing Himself.
Who do we gravitate towards? Is it the people who appear to have it all together, the friendships that don't really demand anything of us, or is the people with messy lives, who have visible needs, whom we KNOW getting involved with is going to cost us?
May God place in our hearts a burning desire to spend time with those who are spiritually desperate, the wisdom to discern their true needs, and the courage to meet those needs, no matter how messy it might become, nor how it might make us look to those around us. May we be willing to sacrifice our reputations for those who need the Savior.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year reading: 1 Timothy 2; Proverbs 21; Isaiah 51-52
Tomorrow's scripture focus passage: Luke 15:3-7