All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them! ”— Luke 15:1-2
Jesus is teaching in a new place. His reputation proceeded him and crowds come. These people were labeled as "tax collectors and sinners." Despised, tax collectors were Jews who worked for the Romans within the taxation machine all the while extorting their own countrymen for unfair profits. All the rest who weren't in the Jewish ruling elite are simply called, "sinners." Unrighteous.
That elite "the Pharisees and scribes" saw Jesus as their enemy, not as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets but as a destroyer thereof. They ruled others by oppressive layers of manmade laws covering the Law of God which they meticulously kept. Their rule keeping, works based righteousness is legend. Self-righteous.
We often miss the power of these two verses due to their company. They begin the chapter containing the iconic parable trio of The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Lost (aka Prodigal) Son. Don't miss these verses, however. They contain two little words that teach us a big lesson.
The tax collectors and sinners came to listen to Jesus. The unrighteous were humble before Jesus. They saw their need of his message and salvation. Jesus was a man who welcomed, and ate with, sinners—those like them.
The Pharisees and scribes were complaining about Jesus. The self-righteous were arrogant before Jesus. They saw no need since they had it all figured out. Jesus was a man who welcomed, and ate with, sinners—those beneath them.
What is my posture before Jesus?
Should I adopt a different posture?