And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Someone had to reach out to these publicans and sinners. The Pharisees certainly weren’t going to. They looked down on these people, but Jesus loved them and had compassion on them. They would walk past and look the other way, but Jesus drew near. And perhaps that was one of the main things about the Pharisees that bothered Jesus so much—not just that they were hardhearted toward God, but toward other people, as well. They had exalted themselves so much that they saw everyone unlike them as beneath them, unequal, and therefore also unworthy.
But Jesus doesn’t see people that way. He knows what we are made of. Yes, He knows we are sinners. But He loves us and values us and is willing to show us mercy, to give us that gift of salvation that none of us deserve. He was willing to spend some time and share a meal with a bunch of people that the Pharisees wouldn’t give the time of day to. And so maybe that’s what bothered the Pharisees so much about Jesus—that He was humble and meek and willing to minister to the castoffs of their society, to reach out to the lowest with grace and love.
Jesus’ purpose, unlike the Pharisees’, was to benefit others, not Himself. Jesus desired to bring healing and wholeness and forgiveness and change hearts and lives, to offer hope and a better future, to unite lost souls with their heavenly Father. He came to set us free. He came to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He came to be a Savior and a friend, to lead us out of the darkness and into the light.
So what is our attitude? Do we recognize that we’re all sinners and that we are no better than anyone else? Do we understand that it is only God’s grace that can help us rise out of that state in the first place? And so can we, and will we, have compassion on those lost souls around us? Can we be a little gentler, a little kinder, a little more understanding and seek to help, not hurt? Will we be willing to reach out to someone instead of feeling like we’re too good to draw near and tell them about Jesus? Will we be friend or foe to those lost and needy people all around us?