“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

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Gospel LK 5:27-32

“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

When Jesus says “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” who was he talking about? The Pharisees undoubtedly would have assumed Jesus was referring to those Jesus was dining with. Certainly those tax collectors were sinners. They made their living by collecting as much tax as possible from the citizens, often leaving them with barely enough money to sustain themselves. The more the tax collector collected, the more they made for themselves. The sin of greed was one they could easily be accused of. Their other sin was through breaking the Jewish laws regarding collecting money, not to mention they were collecting this money for a false god as the emperor thought himself divine. When Jesus said though, ” I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners”, might he not also have been referring to the Pharisees as sinners? If the tax collector was extorting money, weren’t the Pharisees too using their knowledge and influence of Jewish law to place an equal burden on those same citizens? In their effort to gain a place in Gods kingdom, weren’t they in some way condemning those who could not keep pace with their laws a place outside the kingdom of God? If the tax collectors and the like were guilty of personal transgressions or sins, were not the Pharisees and the leaders of the day guilty of promulgating sins of society? Jesus sat with the tax collectors and sinners, because that is what was necessicary to heal them of their sins.He argued with the Pharisees for the same reason. Restoring the Kingdom of God required both, healing the sins of the individual and those of the cultures that surrounded them. Sometimes it is easier to spot the sins of others than to recognize our own.

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