One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table (Luke 7:36, esv).
If you were making plans for going out this Friday or Saturday night, who are some of the people you’d most enjoy being with? And who are some of the people you might not enjoy being with? Nothing personal, you simply don’t have a lot in common. Or perhaps, in one or two cases, it’s very personal. You and they just . . . it would take all the fun out of it.
All of which makes Jesus’ willingness in Luke 7 to accept a Pharisee’s invitation to dinner so remarkable. Because Pharisees, to put it plainly, were the worst. Harsh, arrogant, legalistic, self-righteous. Jesus Himself was hardly shy about calling them out. He could expose their true colors in the most incisive terms possible. (See Matthew 23 for a blistering, chapter-long example.)
But despite what He thoroughly despised in the false religiosity of the pharisaical system, He never let it prevent Him from being gracious, kind, and hospitable to any one individual Pharisee.
Jesus loved and welcomed people without judgment. That’s why He gladly went to the Pharisee’s house.
While He was there, you may recall, He was approached by a woman who hadn’t been invited to the dinner but had snuck in anyway. The Bible discreetly avoids calling her a prostitute, describing her as “a woman of the city, who was a sinner” (Luke 7:37). But even in being careful with the wording, the implication is clear. These two figures—the big, superior Pharisee and the lowly woman of the night—represented all the wrong stuff to most ordinary people. Yet to Jesus, no person was made of the wrong stuff, or had the wrong story, or came from the wrong place, or was wrong to think He wanted them hanging around. He responded warmly to each of them. To all of them.
Jesus welcomed people without judgment. Do we?
As His followers today, we may be biblically solid in our theology and doctrine. We may be faithful in prayer and worship. But in our hearts and in our churches, do we welcome those who are different from us—no matter who they are, where they’ve been, what they’ve done, what they look like, what they drive, who they voted for, or what secret they’re most ashamed of? Rather than judging them negatively based upon a superficial sense of our own superiority, do we instead receive them appreciatively? Do we communicate to them that we, too, are people equally in need of God’s grace?
The truth is, what each of us has in common is far greater than anything that separates us. Regardless of the road they’ve been on, it still leads—same as ours—to the foot of the cross. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Think of a family member who’s been hurtful to you. Think of a person at the office who scoffs at your faith. Think of a neighbor who’s always calling and asking for things, oblivious to the inconvenience they cause. Or perhaps it’s someone you notice at church for the first time who doesn’t seem to be comfortable or look like they belong. Would any one of these people receive from you a warm welcome today, despite any differences you’ve had in the past, or any differences you have in the present?
Do whatever it takes today to get to the foot of the cross where the ground is level, and welcome others without judgment.
Lord, You’ve chosen to receive me into Your fellowship without regard for my utter unworthiness to stand in Your presence. You’ve extended grace to me where none was deserved. May my heart be like Yours. Help me reject any first impressions of others that cause me to see them as “unfit company.” Open my heart and mind to welcome without judgment every person You bring into my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.