“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering round to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:1-2)
These two groups can be often found around Jesus, the tax collectors and sinner, and the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. They never mixed with each other though! The latter group deeply despised ‘sinners’ group. The tax collectors and sinners hurried to gather around Jesus to hear him. The Pharisees on the other hand muttered and judged Jesus: “This man (!) welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
The sinners were not satisfied with themselves, they wanted to get closer to Jesus having their hope in His help to change them. The Pharisees on the other hand, were not satisfied with Jesus and the sinners. The tax collectors knew they were lacking that they were sinners. The Pharisees believed to be righteous. The tax collectors could not hide their sins, while the Pharisees tried to cover up theirs.
Who can be helped? Only those can be healed who realise they are unwell and want to be healed. Jesus said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. … For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13)
In one of His parables a Pharisee prayed in the temple giving thanks that he was better than others, while at the same time the tax collector asked God to be merciful to him a sinner. Which of the two was changed? Jesus said it was the tax collector who went home being justified (Luke 18:14).
Because if someone is full of themselves nothing can be given to them! Who wants to get rid of their sins confessing them to Jesus, they receive righteousness, purity, peace, hope instead of them from Jesus.
Which group do you belong to? Do you want to be changed, forgiven, or you want to change Jesus as the Pharisees wanted? They accused Jesus that he was the friend of sinners. Do you belong to his circle of friends? If not yet, do you want to?
“You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14)