“Now, the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering round to hear Jesus” Luke chapter 15, verse 1.
Imagine that, sinners wanted to hear what Jesus had to say. They weren’t screaming him down on the street corner, or banning him from the marketplace for unagreeable opinions, His words, though unpredictable and uncensored, allured the masses. I would remark about how times have changed, although it is probably only the moments that change.
People are like socks that on different days walk with the other foot. Today we have a hysterical worldwide political movement who want nothing to do with the Christ. Far from desiring to hear him, they either want to wash their hands of him or demand His crucifixion. Once again, Christians are loathed more than criminals like Barabbas.
Maybe sinners are the new Pharisees; and religious people are the new sinners. The world has quickly become a very strange place. Nevertheless, until NASA builds a colony on Mars, we are fated to be here. You don’t even need to leave your hometown to feel like a stranger or pilgrim anymore, just keep up with the news.
In my last article I touched on a few parables from the Gospel of Luke, chapters 15 and 16. I wanted to draw attention to the verbal belting Jesus gave the Pharisees that had a problem with Him allowing sinners to throng about him as he dished out divine wisdom. Through these parables, Jesus expounded the worth of the sinner, the hypocrisy, and the fate of the religious zealots.
In the same breath he made a case for ease of access through which the sinner may enter into the kingdom of God. This, I believe, is the thing that really frayed the nerves of the Pharisees. While Jesus was throwing wide open the kingdom gate for the dregs of society, he was simultaneously tightening the screws upon the narrow gate made specifically for the preachers and professors of religion.
Reading over the preceding chapters to Luke 15 and 16 sheds some light on the building tension between Jesus and His Rabbinic contemporaries.
Towards the end of Luke chapter 13, we see Jesus imploring the cities of Israel to enter the narrow gate, for many, He says, will seek to but be unable. Then they will see the kingdom full of foreigner’s sitting with the prophets and patriarch’s while they weep and wail from a great distance.
Jesus then weeps over Jerusalem, Israel had missed the boat.
Keeping the Sabbath
In Luke chapter 14 we find Jesus having a meal at the house of a prominent Pharisee. I’ll take a stab in the dark and presume that sinners were not high on the guest list. It was also the Sabbath, Jesus’s favourite day of the week for performing medical work. Jesus seemed to have a running gag throughout his ministry about pressing the Pharisees on whether healing is ok on the sabbath, then healing someone before they could give answer.
The Sabbath is a big deal amongst Sabbath keepers. Probably because there is a multitude of things you can or can’t do to show others your love for rest on a Saturday. It’s a big deal to Jews and Seventh-Day Adventists, etc. There isn’t much ritual observance you can add to not murdering, stealing or committing adultery, and no one is going to notice the fact that you don’t break these commandments.
No one is claiming to be the faithful remnant because their Christian community doesn’t believe in murdering other people. But keep the Seventh Day Sabbath…
Now Jesus wasn’t into religious silliness. He wanted that pure and undefiled religion that cares for the lame, blind and maimed, not the type that waves their circumcision in the face of outsiders. Some things are meant to be covered up.
After Sabbath-lunching with the Pharisees Jesus finds himself surrounded by the Israelite multitudes, and he gives the conditions of discipleship. He offers the people the chance to do what the nation has always been called to do, share in the redemption of the world. Yet the cost is high. Whoever is willing must hate their nearest and dearest, even their own life, if they wish to be His disciple. None were willing.
True, some of Jesus’s disciples who even forsook him in his darkest hour followed him afterward. Yet He went to the cross alone. The redemption of the world fell upon His shoulders, only one was found worthy.
How much are you willing to lose to share in the redemption of the world? Your family?Your denomination?Your seat at the high point of the table?Your own life?
Join the party
How about we make the progression we see in the Gospel of Luke. Let’s stop stuffing our face with religious starch and start by sharing a meal and message with the sinners. Compel them to come in. The gate is and always has been, wide open.
The gate was truly only ever as narrow as the remaining days of Jesus life on earth. It stands now opened wide forever. Come on in and join the party.
Joshua Robbie is currently serving the Lord under Pastors Ronnie and Shirley Naidoo of KZN Celebration Centre in Tongaat South Africa. He and His wife Renemoved from Australia to South Africa in April 2016. Their desire is to help in whatever way they can so that the church can become all that God has purposed her to be. Josh is a painter by trade and also enjoys sports such as surfing, basketball and boxing.
Josh Robbie previous articles may be viewed
Joshua Robbie is currently serving the Lord under Pastors Ronnie and Shirley Naidoo of KZN Celebration Centre in Tongaat South Africa. He and His wife Rene’ moved from Australia to South Africa in April 2016. Their desire is to help in whatever way they can so that the church can become all that God has purposed her to be. Josh is a painter by trade and also enjoys sports such as surfing, basketball and boxing. He has also written a book, now available for purchase on Amazon called: “Your Father sees: Living the sermon on the mount”.Josh Robbie previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josh-robbie.html