Thursday: Publicans and Sinners

It’s hard to imagine what our world would have been like had not sin intruded. The beauty of nature, even after millennia, still testifies to the majesty and power and goodness of God. Our sin-darkened minds can barely grasp what humanity and human relations would have been like had our world not fallen. One thing we can be sure of is that the class distinctions, prejudices, and cultural and ethnic boundaries that impact every society and culture would not exist.

Image © Providence Collection from

Image © Providence Collection from

Sad to say, too, it’s hardly feasible that before Christ returns these boundaries are going to vanish. On the contrary, as our world gets worse, there is no doubt that these barriers will, as well. As Christians, however, we must do what we can in every way possible to seek to transcend these barriers that have caused so much heartache and suffering and pain in our world, especially to those whom society rejects as the greatest outcasts.

Read Matthew 9:9-13. In what way is the essence of true Christianity revealed here, not just in what Jesus said but in that which He did? Focus especially on His words, taken from the Old Testament: I desire mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6, NKJV). Especially given the context, why must we be so careful that we do not become guilty of possessing the attitude that Jesus is so powerfully condemning here-especially when we are all to some degree creatures of our particular societies, and thus influenced by the prejudices and social barriers that are inherent in every society?

The Pharisees beheld Christ sitting and eating with publicans and sinners. He was calm and self-possessed, kind, courteous, and friendly; and while they could not but admire the picture presented, it was so unlike their own course of action, they could not endure the sight. The haughty Pharisees exalted themselves, and disparaged those who had not been blessed with such privileges and light as they themselves had had. They hated and despised the publicans and sinners. Yet in the sight of God their guilt was the greater. Heaven’s light was flashing across their pathway, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it; but they had spurned the gift.-Ellen G. White, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1,088.



Thursday: Publicans and Sinners — 7 Comments

  1. When Jesus came to this world He had one mission and that was to save us from this world of sin. Of all people on this world the Jews were the ones to show us the light of God but missed out on that by thinking that salvation was for them. Today people miss out on the blessing of Heaven by refusing to share Jesus to the world and that is going to be the difference between those that are going to heaven and those that a going to remain

  2. We should also take Christ's character if we are to impress those who are not Christians, and follow His teachings and His ways.

  3. I have often heard the saying 'we are called to be fishers of men, we are to catch them and leave the cleaning up process to Christ'. However, we seem to be so afraid of becoming 'contaminated' that we prefer to see them 'cleaned up' before we can reach out to, minister, and share the goodness of God with them.
    Jesus paved the way as we can see in these past few lessons we are studying now and we should always be thankful as Paul reminds us that "even while we were yet sinners Christ died for us".

  4. [Moderator's note: please use first and last names when commenting on this site. Thanks!]

    It was only natural for the Jews to despise the tax collectors, because the tax collectors were Jews who cooperated with the Roman oppressors. The tax collectors were considered betrayers of the Israelite nation.

  5. What a nice thought, Taylor, thanks. That reminds me of a signboard I once saw at a church: "SINNERS WANTED". I believe this is the attitude we ought to embrace both in our homes and places of worship. People won't help but marvel as in Jesus day "this man welcomes sinners."

  6. it is easy to develop a disposition to 'race to the top,' to have a strong desire to achieve and obtain and be regarded highly. This tendency draws us to associate with the lettered folk and identify with the 'big timers,' to take pictures with them, be seen in their company, get their autographs and call them friends. Absent the selfish intent this can be useful if we may exude a sweet spiritual influence on those with whom we come in contact.

    Yet the way of the cross often seems to take a different direction, a kind of 'race to the bottom,' to befriend the downtrodden, disenfranchised, degenerate, deseased and outcast, while the proud are seeking to increase their honor in this world.

    It takes effort to trade time with those who might help us for time with those whom we might help. As we cultivate such a tendency the Lord more than makes up for any perceived loss of advancement.

  7. Jesus accepted everyone, rich, poor, deranged, and all kinds of outcasts. It is difficult to do the same like Jesus, but we have to remember that all the 'undesirables' are and a part of God's creation, were and are created in God's image, but because of sin and Satan's doings they are deceived. Lets do our best and pray constantly for them to recover and receive Jesus.


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