There are some things that are just plain politically incorrect, befriending prostitutes has got to be one, not to mention hanging around with lepers, thieves, extortioners… the scum of the earth. They made their bed – they should lie in it, let ’em rot in hell… etc. etc.
It seems inconceivable in this age of squeaky clean Christianity that Jesus could have turned a blind eye to such unrighteousness. If a drunk or a druggie or a hooker should walk into our church meetings it would bring us completely undone, it would totally unsettle our sense of order. Jesus didn’t even put stipulations on their company, he just said g’day and gave them a hug, and that was that.
Didn’t He notice, or didn’t He care? Was their behaviour of concern, or was there something far more important at stake? Didn’t He realize that His reputation as Mr. Clean was at stake.
Here’s what I think; there was primarily only one thing He was interested in, it wasn’t what people were doing, or how they were living, it wasn’t even whether they were particularly involved in religious pursuits – it was getting them out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.
When Jesus looked at everyone – from the most respectable to the most abhorrent, they all fell into one category – “unsaved“. There was no scale of respectability, none that were closer to heaven than the other… all of mankind was terribly lost, totally separated from God and desperately damaged by sin… inseparable from each other in every way ~~ except that the worst of sinners knew they needed help.
That presented Jesus with an opportunity that the ‘goody two shoes’ missed out on ~~ vulnerability, (need + desperation = receptivity) , God’s grace had a way in… this group of desperados would grab the life line He was offering, because they knew in themselves they had no hope, nothing, zip.
Fast forward 2000 years: what is religion saying? measure up, shape up or ship out, get your act together… you’ve got to be kidding. What has happened to the most valuable message in history? has it become an institution? has it become conditional on our good works? have we added our goodness to Christ’s because of some notion that His perfection is lacking in ‘the saving stakes’.
We can’t let it happen, His blood is too precious to spoil with our misguided religious conscience… only He saves, only Jesus.
Prostitutes get it, so does pretty much every section of our desperately needy society… when will the church get it? Jesus didn’t come to turn us into good doers, he came to set us free from our inability to do good, so that we can depend, rest, surrender to His goodness.