Related Verses: Matt 1:22,23; John 1:14; Luke 15:3-24; Matt 9:10-13; Ps 51:17; 1 John 2:16; Phil 2:13-15
One of the most interesting, or curious, accusations ever made against Jesus, one that warrants careful thought, is the one found in Luke 15:1, 2 where it is said of him, that those in religious authority said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Several thoughts emerge from this accusation:
- Who would you assume these “sinners” to be? Criminals? The poor? The outcasts of society? The homeless? The irreligious? Do you associate with any such people? And if not, how much like Jesus are you?
- It says that Jesus ate with them. Eating with someone is a very significant happening. It presumes a measure of trust has been extended for you have sat down with them. It speaks of time taken to share the meal. It speaks of some time given to conversation, to sharing conversation, inquiring about the other person. And it presumes a certain level of vulnerability and commonality. Beyond all this, it is a very human thing to do, sharing that which gives live with someone who might not be able to obtain it for him/herself.
- Have you ever been in any danger of being accused of associating with sinners? What would it do to your reputation were you to be charged with such a thing?
There is a very famous saying in our circles that Jesus method was to mingle with people as one who desired their good, who showed them sympathy, who cared for their needs, who won their trust. It was only after that that he bade them to follow him.
- What happens to an invitation if the giving of it is preceded by providing obvious care for those to whom you wish to extend an invitation?
- How could you mingle with people today enough to win their confidence?
In Luke 15 can be found three little parables having to do with lost-ness, the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son.
- What are the similarities found in these parables?
- What differences do you see in the parables?
- What great lessons for life could you draw from these parables?
- What is the most powerful element that you find in the parable of the lost son?
- What draws the son back to his father’s home and how could you make that applicable in today’s society?
How do you think the common perception of God comports with who He really is and what he is really like?
In Matthew 9:10-13, there is recorded another interchange between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day the main issue of which is his association with sinners. The presumption was that a good person would NOT associate with sinners. Yet Jesus did so freely.
- Why are sinners so disliked by righteous people? Are those reasons really valid in light of God’s association with us?
- What happens in the lives of those who do see themselves as sinners?
- What is the effect of seeing yourself to be a sinner on your life and belief system?
- How many friends do you have outside the boundaries of your believing community? Is that a good thing, or do you need to work on deliberately adjusting that number?
- How does the admonition to be in the world but no of it play out here?
- Why do religious rituals and protocols become so important to us that we desire to protect and tend them even to the exclusion of those who are on the “outside?” Evaluate this practice.
- How does a community protect and “police” its boundaries without becoming exclusivistic? And what happens if it has no boundaries?
- What can be said about churches that expend more energy bickering over internal issues than on positively affecting their communities?