If you’ve been a reader of this journal for any length of time, you know that one of the key principles from the Sermon on the Mount revolves around the holiness, or set-apartness, of believers. Example after example is provided by Yeshua on what the religious hypocrites practice, and how he encourages his disciples to do the opposite, or to do something more meaningful. The disciples’ lives were to be pure and blameless with a righteousness that surpassed that of the Pharisees because of the sincerity of their hearts.
So it is little wonder that the religious elite also questioned Yeshua on his choice of company that he kept.
Luke 5:30-32 – But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
If he was truly a teacher of the Word of God and was supposed to be demonstrating his holiness, or set-apartness, then why was he constantly fraternizing with the very people who the Pharisees condemned as flagrant sinners?
The answer Yeshua gives provides an insight into his life and ministry that should prompt us with a similar response.
Matthew 9:12-13 – When Yeshua heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
I think the rendering in this version brings out the meaning of the passage beautifully. The Pharisees were guilty of self-righteousness; those who believed every thing they did was so set apart from wickedness that of course God would favor them. However, Yeshua says that God is really closest to those who “know they are sinners.” Those who know they have violated his standards, and want to do what is right because they know they have offended him.
By contrast, the Pharisees did righteous things because they thought it would make them look better in God’s eyes than the sinful actions of those around them. Therefore they did not demonstrate the love for God and others or seek his forgiveness as God desired them to because they felt they were already on the right path, and of course God would favor them.
This is why Yeshua could drive the point home when confronted by a Pharisee as to why he allowed a woman to pour perfume on him and wash his feet with her tears. Yeshua illustrates that her actions and her tears of repentance demonstrated that she realized she had done sinful things, and she wanted to do whatever she could in response to the depth of forgiveness that God offered her.
Luke 7:47 – “Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Our love for God and others will be proportionate to the recognition of the forgiveness that we believe we have received. When we realize the depth of God’s love in overlooking our blatant and sinful actions, we should be driven ever closer to him, and our lives should be living demonstrations of that bountiful forgiveness toward others in like measure as we have received.
If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.
Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.
Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.