“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matt. 9:11-13)
You have heard many times that this meal is for sinners. But there are at least two ways to get this wrong. One way is quite common in the church today, and that is the assumption that since this meal is for sinners, anyone can come and who’s to say who can’t? Everyone is a sinner after all, and so, stop being so judgy. The problem with that approach is not that they welcome the sick; the problem is that they refuse to give the medicine. It turns out that lots of people like their sin-sickness and don’t want to get better. But Jesus clearly says here that He came to call sinners to repentance. Repentance means change. It means confessing your sins honestly and turning away from them.
Another way to get this meal wrong is also common in the church today, and that is the functional assumption that even though Jesus said this meal is for sinners, what He really meant was that it’s for those sinners who aren’t really as bad as all the other sinners. Or, in other words, it’s actually for the relatively righteous. But it really isn’t. This meal is for sinners. It’s for people who have failed, for those who have dishonored parents, committed adultery or murder, for those who have lied and stolen. And it’s for those who have a high view of themselves and think they are quite good and Jesus must really be thankful for them. It’s my duty to inform you that you are not good, and that Jesus doesn’t need you. And this is good news.
Jesus calls you to lay all of your sins down, all of your pride down, and repent. Jesus is the head of this table, and He only eats with sinners and tax collectors. If you know you don’t deserve to be here, then you are most welcome.
So come and welcome to Jesus Christ.