A Journey Through Luke's Gospel
“This man welcomes sinners…”
A serious accusation is leveled against Jesus by the religious conservatives of His era. An obedient Jew, as defined by the OT and the centuries of interpretation, sought to be totally distinct from any hint of sin. Welcoming ‘sinners,’ and even more damaging to Jesus’ reputation – “He eats with them” (vs 2). To have a meal is to be in close, even intimate, fellowship.
Jesus could have ignored this challenge. Instead He tells three stories (parables) to illustrate the deep and unending compassion of God for all creation. C. H. Spurgeon wrote of these parables
[God] has a deep sympathy with each stray heart…He grieves over each lost sheep, for he knows the misery that lies in the fact of being lost. … His compassion…[is]…the compassion of an infinite heart brimming over with an ocean of love.
A lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son, and an unforgiving son all are ways Jesus illustrates God’s never-ending compassion for His own.
We are never as far from God’s heart as we often think. Like the father in the parable of the two sons, God is eager to receive the repentant heart.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Spurgeon Study Bible: Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN.: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1400.