In Jesus’ day, meals were public proclamations of kinship and association. Those interested in climbing certain social ladders and maintaining a proper public imaged were most careful with whom they ate and drank.
However, throughout the Gospels, Jesus was quite pleased to spend time with inglorious nobodies and notorious sinners. Hear the testimony of Mark:
And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:15-17)
Jesus desired to dine with those who were demonically possessed, sexually promiscuous, materially idolatrous, physically diseased, and socially despised. All sorts of individuals — male and female, old and young, black and white, religious and irreligious — were encouraged to come to his house and dine at his table. The only ones excluded were those who thought they were better, sharper, more holy, more righteous, and somewhat acceptable.
Well friends, in which category do you find yourself? Are you a “righteous one” who looks at the table and thinks you belong there? Do you already have your special seat picked out? I hope not!
Instead, are you an inglorious nobody and notorious sinner? I hope so, for you have a Great Physician and a fantastic host. And here is some more really good news:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Jesus changes not! Therefore, he still loves to dine with all who continuously admit and confess their sins. It still bring Jesus great joy to hang out with inglorious nobodies and notorious sinners whom he is transforming into his own image.
Therefore, what will you do this coming Lord’s Day? What will you do when your church, in Jesus’ name, calls you to come and dine at his table? Will you not open your mail? Will you not answer your phone? Will you avoid his table because of your status or your deeds? Friends, Jesus wants you — inglorious nobodies and notorious sinners — to dine with him. Perhaps Brennan Manning can carry home this thought:
If Jesus appeared at your dining room table tonight with knowledge of everything you are and are not, total comprehension of your life story and every skeleton hidden in your closet; if he laid out the real estate of your present discipleship with the hidden agenda, the mixed motives, and the dark desires buried in your psyche, you would feel his acceptance and forgiveness. For experiencing God’s love in Jesus Christ means experiencing that one has been unreservedly accepted, approved and infinitely loved …. (The Ragamuffin Gospel, 64-65)