After being in the church for some time it doesn’t take long before you hear the statement
“Jesus ate with sinners.”
At the first sound of hearing this statement it seems true and to be according to scripture. It also has an appearance of a loving, merciful, God therefore it is accepted as Christian doctrine. The bible does have a scripture that says “Why does your Teacher(Christ) eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Many times when I have heard Christians quote this it was used to justify why they go to a bar or concert or something that the world offers. So is this really what this scripture is saying to us? Read closely and see. Here are 2 accounts of this same story.
9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. 10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
27 After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” 28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him. 29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. 30 And their scribes and the Pharisees[a] complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
First thing that stands out to me is that Jesus called Levi out to follow Him. Levi does follow therefore showing or proving his faith in Christ. Then Levi throws a feast for Jesus and His disciples. What happens next,”as Jesus sat at the table,” the bible says “many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Him…” This is where the confusion and misinterpretation comes in. The idea that Jesus made an appoint to hang in the local taverns and clubs of that day because that is where the lost are, is simply not true.
I use this example, lets say a homosexual lived next store to me and invited me over or to be more accurate, came over to my house because he wanted to know about the Christ that lived in me? I would be all for it. Would I go to the gay bar or any bar for that matter, in the hope that I might rub off on some lost person? Did Jesus really do that?
The pharisees missed the point that we are to be a light to a world. To them hanging out with a “sinner” made them look unrighteous. Jesus came to save the lost which they did not understand. Jesus didn’t come to “kick it,” with the lost.
Jesus didn’t make a point to be intimate with the world. The bible says this concerning the world in James 4:4“….know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God.” The people you could say Jesus loved most were people like Lazarus, or the disciple that laid on His chest at the last supper. It was those He was intimate with, His bride!
In conclusion we can see the reality is that Jesus ate with sinners because they came to Him. They came to His table and because He loved them He shared the good news. Jesus walked from city to city and town to town preach the gospel to those who would receive it. Sometimes in the desert, other times in the town square, and other times in a boat. Jesus did not make a point to hang at the local bars or clubs or find a way to relate with to the people, he lived a consecrated life set apart for the Father, went to a cross and died and rose to bring hope for mankind. There is no person to vile to hear the gospel and no one to far that God can not save if they will humble themselves and receive the love of the truth.
It is a shame so many preachers, teachers, and Christians regurgitate these kinds of doctrines without looking to see if truly that is what the bible says. Let us be wise in this last hour.