FRIEND OF SINNERS
Jesus did not surround himself with spiritual people. He always welcomed common people, outcasts and notorious sinners. A particular scandal arose from his association with tax collectors Zachaeus and Matthew (Lk19:1-9). He outraged religious leaders when he reached out to such people. He even ate with them and sat at their tables. The spiritually elite thought they had proof that he is satanic, being a friend with outcasts, prostitutes and sinners (Mt 11:19; Lk 7:34). The Pharisees asked “why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?” (Lk 5:30). Get your Bible and read his answer (Lk 5:31-32). His mission was to the neediest of sinners. Again, toward the end of his ministry he repeated: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10).
Three parables in Luke 15 explain why he ate with sinners. The first two are about finding valuable things that were lost: money and a sheep. The third was about the joy upon finding what had been lost. It is known as the Prodigal Son, a story about the return home of a wayward son. This is considered to be the most popular short story ever told, and it was aimed squarely at the self-righteous religious leaders. They hated Jesus because he exposed their hypocrisy by telling about the elder brother that they represented. They began to plot his death!