1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.
2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful, despicable people...
...even eating with them!
I have always found those 2 verses interesting & intriguing.
We know that tax collectors were outcasts because they were collaborators with the despised Romans.
It would be interesting to know exactly what a “notorious sinner” would have been.
I've googled it just now but didn't get any satisfactory answers.
But would it be much of a stretch that whatever the definitive definition would, these were people whose lives we pretty much out of control...
...maybe we could say they were “spectacular” sinners – people whose mode of living was way outside the norm or acceptable.
And it certainly is indicated that the regular person at the time had some serious negative feelings & concepts toward that kind & type of person.
I'm sure these notorious sinners were also aware of how people viewed them & felt about them.
At the same time, these notorious sinners seem drawn to Jesus to the point where they would come to hear Him speak & teach.
iow, they had to seek Him out & mingle in a crowd of people who didn't like them & didn't want to be around them.
I think it's safe to then say that there must have been something pretty compelling about Jesus that made them willing to endure socially harsh treatment just to come hear Jesus teach.
It isn't surprising the Pharisees (the religious authenticators of their day) took issue with Jesus for allowing them to be around.
And Jesus took it one step further – He even had meals with them!
It would have been socially unacceptable enough to simply let them be around Himself, but Jesus ate with them – eating suggests some sort of commonality, some sort of a willingness to connect with them on a more familiar level.
You know where I'm going with this...
Do we live such lives in the quality of our treatment & connection with the “notorious sinners” of our day that they want to be around us?
To the point they want to be in as familiar a connection as eating with us?
Are we the kind of person with the quality of love & acceptance endemic to our lives & personality that causes people to want to hang with us because there is something about us that draws people to us?
It would be easy & normal to say that Jesus is God, so He should be the kind of person that notorious sinners are drawn to, but we're just flawed humans.
Hmmmmm... but don't we believe that Jesus lives in us, & we live in Jesus?
And don't we believe that the same Holy Spirit that resides in Him resides in us?
I would hazard to say that Jesus displayed to all people, not just notorious sinners, a quality of love & acceptance that made people want to be around Him.
Maybe that's who & what we should be, too, then?