In Luke 15 the Pharisees despise Jesus because Jesus ate with sinners.
Jesus responds to this charge by telling three parables. (On this web site pointing to any Bible reference will give you a pop-up of the text.)
- The rejoicing shepherd (Luke 15:4-7)
- The rejoicing woman (Luke 15:8-10)
- The rejoicing father (Luke 15:11-32)
These titles come from the “punch line” of each parable. They are in Luke 15:6, 9, 32.
Jesus also gave spiritual applications for the first two. Notice Luke 15:7, 10. He did not need to do it for the last one. It was now obvious.
The parables explain why Jesus ate with sinners.
These parables seem off topic. They talk about a lost sheep, coin and son. These are but a vehicle to carry the main point. Jesus ate with sinners to find those who are lost from the Heavenly Father. When Jesus finds them the Heavenly Father rejoices.
Those who are lost fall into three categories:
- Those like the sheep who have innocently wandered away.
- Those like the coin who through neglect or mishandling are now lost.
- Those like the son who are in deliberate rebellion.
To find any of these requires being available to them. Out where they are not in some “holy huddle”.
- Finding the innocent wanderers requires listening to their cry of distress and returning them “home”.
- Finding the neglected or mishandled requires bringing light into their darkened world.
- Finding the rebellious requires being ready and watching for their return from the mess they now experience.
Jesus ate with sinners shouldn’t we?
We like to eat with holy people and be seen in their company. But are we willing to eat with sinners? Do we want our Heavenly Father to rejoice? Do we look like Jesus or a Pharisee? More importantly, do we have the Pharisees’ attitude or Jesus’ attitude toward sinners?