Who Do You Eat With?

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

April 18

Who Do You Eat With?

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 56:1-8 | Josh 16:1-18:28 | Luke 19:1-27 | Proverbs 13:11

Today’s Scripture Focus: Luke 19:1-27

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:9-10 NIV).

Who do you eat with? Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. This was a major problem for the Pharisees and other religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Jesus seemed more than willing to fuel the fire of their accusations that he was a “friend of sinners,” and someone who “eats with tax collectors and sinners.” 

For the Pharisees, scrupulous observance of religious law was prioritized over love for people who needed the message. Jesus prioritized people—especially those that good society rejected—those that weren’t really welcome in the place of worship; those that might bring dishonor to my table-fellowship.

The story of Zachaeus is one more example of Jesus concern to reach out to those that society typically rejects. Jesus’ message of grace seemed especially welcome as meal-time conversation with those who were outcastes and sinners. Jesus love for them seemed to overcome the awkwardness that some feel around religious professionals.

Who do you eat with? Do your meal time conversations show you to be a “friend of sinners?” Or are you more like the Pharisees—filled with judgment and condemnation—refusing to enter into intimate conversation with those who most need the message of God’s grace? To often Christians are known more for their condemnation than their love for “sinners.”

To be Christ-like is to become a “friend of sinners.” The true follower of Christ will seek to find ways to eat with “tax collectors and sinners” demonstrating the good news in mealtime conversation. Consider those that Jesus came to spend time with:

“Jesus comes for sinners, for those as outcast as tax collectors and for those caught up in squalid choices and failed dreams. He comes for corporate executives, street people, superstars, farmers, hookers, addicts, IRS agents, AIDS victims, and even used car salesman. Jesus not only talks with these people but dines with them–fully aware that his table fellowship with sinners will raise the eyes of the religious bureaucrats who hold up the robes and insignia of their authority to justify their condemnation of the truth and their rejection of the Gospel of Grace.” –Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 20-

So with whom will you be eating this week?

Heavenly Father, keep my eyes open to opportunities to be a friend to sinners, to listen, to care, to converse, to serve, to love. May those conversations move naturally to the source of my hope and joy—my relationship with Jesus. Go before and prepare the way and use me to share good news in gentleness when the time is right. Amen.

About pastorjeffsneighborhood

Born and raised in Minnesota, I have served in churches in Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and California. I am a graduate of Crown College (MN) and George Fox Evangelical Seminary (OR). I have also done additional graduate studies in New Testament Studies at the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary (CA). I am also a graduate of the College of Prayer. Having served as the Academic Dean and Program Director at Horizon Institute of Los Angeles for several years, I have returned to the pastorate and serve as Pastor of Big Trees Community Bible Church in Arnold, CA.
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