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God’s Word for You

Luke 15:1-2 in order to call them back

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, October 3, 2018

15 The tax collectors and sinners were all crowding round to listen to him. 2 The Pharisees and scribes complained saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

The reason for the Pharisees’ accusation was the mere presence of these people who were elbowing and shoving their way forward to be able to hear what Jesus was saying. Their faith was showing; they wanted to hear what the Lord said. They were putting their trust in his words, whereas the Pharisees were questioning everything he said. The Lord once asked through the prophet: “They have rejected the word of the LORD. What kind of wisdom do they have? (Jeremiah 8:9 EHV). Jesus’ words brought healing (Proverbs 12:18), and sinners need healing.

If we lump the tax collectors and other sinners into one category (sinners), and the Pharisees and the scribes into another category (Pharisees), then we can break down the difference between the groups with ease. The sinners knew that they were sinners; they knew that they needed to hear Jesus. The Pharisees didn’t think that they were sinners; they didn’t think they needed to hear Jesus. All of them needed him, but only some of them realized it, and the rest were critical of him for welcoming them.

Why were they critical? Is there a passage anywhere in the Old Testament that forbids an Israelite from sitting down and eating with another Israelite who is a sinner? Perhaps, just maybe, the Pharisees were thinking of Psalm 1:1:

“Blessed is the man
  who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
  or sit in the seat of mockers.” (NIV 1978)

The first Psalm’s first verse is a warning about becoming like the wicked, taking the moral position of sinners, or defending the sinful cause of mockers. It does not forbid Israelites from going near such people. If this were so, who could ever bring anyone to repentance? Who could ever proclaim the gospel to them if a verse like this were interpreted to be a “no contact” order?

Jesus will explain this with three parables in this chapter: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost or prodigal son. As we read this wonderful lesson in God’s holy word, keep this main point in mind: We need to interact with sinners in order to call them back. Jesus demonstrated this. How can we reflect it?

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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