Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! Luke 15:1-2 NLT
Jesus was frequently seen publicly eating with sinners, infuriating the Pharisees, who
prided themselves from staying away from sinners. Problem is, their pride also kept them away from Jesus! Jesus knew the only way sinners could ever become holy is if they hung out with Him all the time.
Now, what if I told you, that if you are friends with Jesus so that you can be holy that you are missing the whole point? What if I told you Jesus does not want perfection as much as He wants a close personal relationship? Jesus does not befriend sinners so He can make them Holy. He makes them Holy so the friendship can become more personal.
If we step back in time to the sanctuary service, we find that while holiness is in the sanctuary message the goal is a personal relationship. God said:
“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.” Exodus 25:8
God doesn’t live among us so He can make us perfect. He perfects our love to make our relationship more personal.
Looking forward to our Adventist belief in the second coming, we find the same goal.
I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:3
God wants a close personal relationship with us, and that is what He means when He says He wants us to be Holy.
For I, the Lord, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy. Leviticus 11:45 NLT
What does it mean to be holy? Does it mean living in the attic of a monastery at the top of a mountain? Does it mean only having baptized SDA members as contacts in my Google contacts? Does it mean eating Worthington Veggie Links instead of Hebrew National hot dogs? Does it mean I only listen to the Heritage Singers and never set my radio dial to a secular station?
The English word “holy” dates back to at least the 11th century with the Old English word hālig, an adjective derived from hāl meaning “whole” and used to mean “uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete”. –Wikipedia Essentially “holy” and “whole” have the same origin. If you Google “What does holy mean” you will find answers like “dedicated” and “set apart.”
God is looking for a close personal relationship, not outward perfection. He is totally dedicated to us, to a close personal relationship with you, and wants you to be “wholly” dedicated to a personal relationship with Him.
Why was Jesus was eating with Sinners? He wanted to be their friends or companions. “Companion” comes from two Latin words; com (with) and pan (bread), so by sharing a meal you are indicating your companionship. By being friends with us He is sharing with us, so that we can trust Him and be partakers with Him. Holiness is his sharing with us that leads us to trust and obey Him.
When I was younger I wished I could be righteous like Enoch so I could walk close to God. Then I realized Enoch did not walk close to God because he was righteous. He sensed his weakness and this made him stick close to God. The tax collectors and notorious sinners knew how weak they were when they ate with Jesus and made themselves companions and friends with Jesus. Jesus wants to make you holy His, just like He is Holy yours. He wants to be your friend and companion.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20 NLT