Imagine how surprised you would be to discover that the world-renowned architect Richard Rogers was designing a very ordinary loft extension for the house next door; “Why is he interested in that?” you might wonder. Or think how angry you would be if a local magistrate was regularly seen hanging out with people well-known for their criminal scheming; “Doesn’t she know what these people are like?”
In the same way there was deep surprise and anger over the people Jesus was interested in and the company he kept. Why did he spend his time with those considered ‘worthless’ when his friends were claiming for him the prestigious title ‘Christ’ (ie Divine King). Why would he have time for greedy cheats when he himself was so totally incorruptible? And why did he welcome those whose sexual lives were in a mess when he claimed that he would one day be the final judge of everyone.
Jesus was not embarrassed by the outrage but said it was what he’d come for – he was a doctor to the sick and a rescuer to those in danger. In one of the stories that he told to silence the grumblers a son distances himself from his father and ends up in a mess. The surprise is that when he comes to his senses and decides to throw himself on his father’s mercy he is welcomed home with a lavish party. Jesus is like that Father. You can be too self-righteous to come to Jesus and submit to the treatment of this loving doctor but you can’t be too lost or too guilty. He came to find those who had distanced themselves from God and bring them back home. And he is still doing that today.
“The Son of Man (that’s Jesus) came to seek and to save lost people” (Luke 19:10).