Day 9: Don’t Be Afraid to Dine with the Wrong Tablemates

Read Matthew 9:11, Mark 2:16
Read Luke 5:30

As Jesus sat down to eat with many tax collectors and sinners at Matthew’s house, He felt genuine love for them.

Not everyone viewed his dining companions in the same way.

The Pharisees couldn’t believe that Jesus would lower Himself to his level. These people were outcasts; the Pharisees wouldn’t be caught dead entering their home, much less sharing a meal.

“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” they questioned the disciples.

First, let’s address the irony of this statement. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23) who’ve failed God and don’t deserve a seat at His table. The stuck-up Pharisees were no better than the people they scoffed at.

But this verse also provides a quick glance into what life as a Christian is like. Even when we act in a way that’s pleasing to God, the world doesn’t always understand, and people may will judge us.

It’s important to recognize that the Pharisees had no legitimate reason to hate or question Jesus. According to Matthew, all He’d done to this point was call His disciples, heal the sick, conduct the Sermon on the Mount, and restore men possessed by demons. The closest “offense” He made was forgiving a man’s sins (Matthew 9:2). The Pharisees were likely threatened by the attention Jesus was getting and fearful that they’d lose their standing among the people, so they looked for ways to undermine Him at every opportunity.

Like it or not, that’s our reality as Christians, too:

  • “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” – John 15:18
  • “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 10:22
  • “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” – 1 John 3:13

But Jesus didn’t back down. We’ll address His response in more detail tomorrow, but rather than getting up from the table, He stood His ground and chastised the Pharisees. And He enjoyed a meal with his merry band of sinners.

Taking a stand didn’t make Jesus’ life easier. He consistently butted heads with the Pharisees and Jewish leaders, and their disagreements ultimately led to His death. But Jesus never cared what the people thought of Him. He did what was right, and both He and the people around Him were blessed because of His steadfast nature.

And we will be too.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Don’t listen to what the world tells you when you do God’s work. People might not understand. They might judge you. But the only one’s opinion you need to care about is the very one who befriended Matthew and was excited to hang out with him and his “sinner” friends.

So pull up a chair’s at the sinners’ table. After all, it’s where you belong. But you have something the other people may not have – Christ’s truth. And that blessing is more important to share than every the greatest of meals.