(7) And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. Luke 19:7
Who were the “they” in this verse? We can safely assume that it is not exclusively the disciples, although they may be included as some that are still surprised by Jesus’ openness to those who were rejected by the public and religious leaders. Certainly, it would have included the crowd that was there to see Jesus. They would have been those who had been taken advantage of by Zacchaeus.
They had a theological assumption that God loves good people and rejects bad people. This is not that different from people today. If you ask people if they are a good person, most people will answer in the affirmative. If you ask them if they were to die, would they go to heaven or hell, most will say heaven. If you ask them why, they will often say that they are basically good people. They haven’t done x or y like other people.
Here they had theological categories. There were good people and there were sinners. Good people were not friends with sinners. God certainly is not a friend of sinners.
Jesus is going against this notion. Jesus was a friend of sinners. Jesus has been often accused of being a friend of sinners. There was another tax collector that we took note of earlier, named Levi, one of Jesus’ disciples. Do you remember earlier in this series reading about this event? Check out Luke 5:27-32:
(27) And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.
(28) And he left all, rose up, and followed him.
(29) And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.
(30) But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
(31) And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
(32) I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:27-32
Jesus’ whole ministry was characterized by a theological understanding that all of us are sinners, and only those that acknowledge their own spiritual poverty will go to the One who will do anything about it.
Do you have the same view of people as the crowd? Do you categorize people into the good and the bad? Do you see yourself as primarily good? This is a dangerous place to be.
Or do you see people the way that Jesus did? He loved people despite their sin. He did not love their sin. When they were willing to see themselves as they really were then He was ready to work in their life.
How do you view people today?