When Jesus Enters In: The House of Religion & the House of Sinners

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the fifteenth verse of the fourteenth chapter and continues through to the tenth verse of the fifteenth chapter. “And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are not ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs to and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord it is done as thou hast commanded, yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (Luke 14:15-24).

            “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, IF any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and  come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:25-34).

            “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:1-7).

            “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:8-10).

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find a continuation of that which was found in the opening verses of the fourteenth chapter. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the opening verses of the fourteenth chapter you will again find Jesus entering into the homes of one of the Pharisees. On this particular occasion we find Jesus entering into the home of a Pharisee, and doing so on the Sabbath day to eat bread—essentially participating in fellowship with this Pharisee. What I can’t help but think about and consider is the fact that this was the second time Jesus entered into the house of a Pharisee, for each of the Synoptic gospel narratives record Jesus entering into the house of a Pharisee, and a certain and specific event taking place within the house of that Pharisee. If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and consider when reading the opening verses of this particular portion of Scripture it’s that if you read the New Testament gospel narratives you will find and encounter Jesus entering into the homes of different individuals—most of the time when He was invited, and this particular time when it seems that Jesus deliberately and intentionally entered into the house of this Pharisee on the Sabbath for to eat bread. Upon reading the words which are found in the four New Testament gospel narratives you will find Jesus deliberately and intentionally entering into the homes of certain individuals—a reality which we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of. As I am writing these words I am absolutely gripped and captivated with the fact that even when Jesus was invited into the house of certain of the Pharisees He did not decline their invitation. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that when you read the gospel narratives you will find Jesus being invited into the homes of certain Pharisees, and nowhere do we find Him rejecting or even despising that invitation.

INVITING JESUS INTO THE HOUSE OF RELIGION! WHEN JESUS ENTERS INTO THE HOUSE OF RELIGION! JESUS DOESN’T DECLINE AN INVITATION INTO THE HOUSE OF RELIGION! It is something worth thinking about and considering when reading the four gospel narratives that the Lord Jesus Christ never despised, nor ever rejected the invitation that was given unto Him to enter into the home of a Pharisee. There are at least two to three accounts found within the four gospel narratives of Jesus accepting the invitation into the house of religion, and I have to admit that this is truly captivating and astonishing when you take the time to think about it. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely wonderful it is, for you would think with all the heated exchanges that took place between Jesus and the Pharisees that He would have denied, despised and even rejected the invitations to enter into the homes and houses of religion. If you take the time to read the four gospel narratives you will find countless times when the Pharisees and the religious community of that day carefully watched the Lord Jesus Christ—particularly and especially on the sabbath days—to see what He would do, and whether or not He would bring healing on those days. Time and time again you will find the Pharisees seemingly lying in wait for Jesus seeking means whereby they might trap and ensnare Him in His words thereby having means to accuse Him. You cannot read the four gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with this vehement opposition which existed on the part of the Pharisees, as well as the other religious groups and sects during those days. What’s more, is that as you read the four gospel narratives you will find that some of Jesus’ harshest statements, rebukes, comments, and declarations were reserved for and toward the Pharisees and the other religious sects which existed during those days. In fact, the entire twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is entirely and altogether devoted to this particular concept as the chapter is chalk full of rebukes spoken by and from the mouth of Jesus toward the scribes and the Pharisees.

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this portion of Scripture I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that although Jesus would indeed and would in fact experience tremendous debates with the Pharisees which were present during those days, it would not deter Him from accepting invitations to enter into the homes of those Pharisees which invited Him in. In fact, as you read the four gospel narratives—not only will you find Jesus entering into the houses of two Pharisees, but you will also find Jesus accepting an invitation to meet with a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus who sought to speak with Him by night. It is absolutely captivating and astonishing to read the four gospel narratives and encounter and come face to face with the fact that although there were countless heated encounters and interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees, He was still more than willing to enter into the homes and interact with the Pharisees when they invited Him in. What’s more, is that although you will read in the four gospel narratives heated interactions and exchanges which took place between Jesus and the Pharisees you will discover that Jesus never ignored them, nor did Jesus ever avoid them. We would like to think that Jesus would and could have chosen to deliberately ignore and avoid the Pharisees and the other religious sects which were present during those days, and yet the truth of the matter is that nowhere in any of the four gospels do we find Jesus avoiding these religious groups which were present during those days. It is actually quite astonishing to think about and consider this particular reality, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that the Lord Jesus Christ had absolutely no problem entertaining religion and the religious leaders which were present during those days. We would like to think that Jesus would have despised and rejected them, and yet the truth of the matter is that there is absolutely no place in any of the four gospels where Jesus ever despised, rejected, ignored or avoided any of the Pharisees, or any other religious sects which were present during those days.

            The more I think about and consider this reality the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely awesome and incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and how if you journey to the New Testament book of Acts you will find Him appearing unto a Pharisee along the road to Damascus. In the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find Stephen—one of the seven deacons ordained and appointed by the apostles and the early Church—being the first martyr in the history of the Church. In the opening verse of the eighth chapter you will find that a man by the name of Saul consented unto Stephen’s death—and not only consented to Stephen’s death, but also helped facilitate a tremendous persecution of the Christians within the city of Jerusalem. As a direct result of this particular concept we must needs recognize that in the ninth chapter we find Saul obtaining documentation which he intended to take with him unto Damascus to use to imprison any whom he found who belonged to and were part of the Way. It would be while Saul was journeying along the road to Damascus with the intention of further persecuting Christians and even imprisoning them that he would encounter the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There on the road to Damascus we find Saul experiencing a light as bright as the noon day sun in all of its strength before and around him, and hearing a voice not only calling him by name, but also asking why he was persecuting Him. As a direct result of this encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ who emphatically declared that it was He whom Saul was persecuting we find instruction being given unto Saul to enter into Damascus and to go to a street called Straight where he would find a disciple named Ananias who would pray for him that he might receive his sight. It would be there in the city of Damascus Ananias would pray for Saul, and not only would Saul receive his sight, and not only would Saul be baptized, but Saul would also being preaching the gospel of the very one whom he had previously persecuted and the very one who had appeared to him on the road to Damascus.

            Now you might be wondering how and why I would choose to even mention the narrative and account of Saul on the road to Damascus when speaking about Jesus and the Pharisees and religious sects which were present during that generation. The truth of the matter is that we know Jesus called fishermen to walk with and follow Him as disciples, companions and partners together in the work of the ministry of the kingdom. We know that Jesus called a publican and tax collector named Matthew to walk with and follow Him as a disciple, companion and partner together in the work of the ministry of the kingdom. What we find in the New Testament book of Acts, however, is Jesus taking this a step further, and although He was no longer present within and upon the earth as the Word made flesh which dwelt among us, He would call another to be one who would not only follow Him, but one who would also be an apostle of and for Christ. What makes the narrative and account of Saul of Tarsus so incredibly unique and powerful is when you think about and consider the fact that Saul was more than simply a man from Tarsus, and was more than just a man who studied in the city of Jerusalem. If and as you read the New Testament epistles which the apostle Paul wrote you will find that he was also a Pharisee. What’s more, is that not only did Saul refer to himself as a Pharisee, but he also referred to himself as a Pharisee of Pharisees. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for within the New Testament—not only do we find Jesus calling fishermen and a tax collector to walk with and follow Him as disciples, and not only do we find Jesus bringing salvation into the house of a chief tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus, but we also find Jesus calling a Pharisee to be one of His disciples. What’s more, is that not only do we find Jesus inviting this Pharisee to be one of His disciples, but we also find Jesus inviting this Pharisee to be one of His holy apostles whom would bring the gospel unto the Gentiles within and throughout Asia. In order to truly grasp and understand this, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote by his own hand in the third chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Philippian congregation:

            “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what thinks were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:1-16).

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that more than simply Jesus calling fishermen and a tax collector to walk with and follow Him as disciples who would later become apostles, we also find Jesus calling a Pharisee to follow Him and to become an apostle of Christ. Moreover, we must needs realize and recognize that Paul wasn’t merely an apostle of Christ, but Paul was perhaps the greatest of all the apostles and one who not only helped bring the gospel concerning Jesus Christ unto Gentiles, but also wrote roughly two thirds of the entire New Testament. Thirteen epistles which are found within the New Testament were written by the apostle Paul who was indeed and was in fact one of the greatest—if not the greatest apostle to ever walk upon the face of the earth. With this being said, however, I am convinced that we must needs turn and direct our attention to two distinct passages found within the New Testament book of Acts, for within these two passages we actually find the apostle Paul speaking for and giving his defense before others. It would be in this defense of himself—and quite honestly, not necessarily a defense of himself, but a defense of the gospel and a defense of the gospel of Christ—the apostle Paul would refer to himself as being a Pharisee and having lived as a Pharisee. We know from the words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Philippian saints that the apostle Paul referred to himself as a Hebrew of Hebrews, being of the tribe of Benjamin, and we also know that the apostle Paul referred to himself as a Pharisee. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading these words that the apostle Paul in his life B.C.—in his life “before Christ”—was a Pharisee. What’s more, is that not only was he a Pharisee, but he also referred to himself as a Pharisee of Pharisee. Moreover, we find the apostle Paul referring to himself as a sinner—and not only a sinner, but the chief of sinners because he persecuted the church of Jesus. Oh how absolutely astonishing it is to think about and consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote and spoke, for the apostle Paul held nothing back concerning his past, for the apostle Paul would in fact speak of himself as indeed being a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of the law. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-third and twenty-sixth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts:

            “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commadnest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, MEN AND BRETHREN, I AM A PHARISEE, THE SON OF A PHARISEE: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find not evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle” (Acts 23:1-10).

            “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched for the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the tings whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I LIVED A PHARISEE. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be though a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I Persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:1-18).

            There is a lot of text and language found within these portion of Scripture, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced we have great need to pay close and careful attention to the words which are found therein. It is when the apostle Paul stood before the council of the Pharisees and Sadducees, as well as when the apostle Paul stood before king Agrippa that he would not only give a defense of himself and of the gospel of Christ, but in each of these defenses we find the apostle Paul referring to himself as a Pharisee. What’s more, is that not only did the apostle Paul refer to himself as Pharisee, but he would even refer to himself as a Pharisee according to the straitest and strictest sect of the Pharisees. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is, for when we think about Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees in the four New Testament gospels we might not and would not think that Jesus would or could call a Pharisee to walk with and follow Him as one of His disciples. In all reality, it is truly unique and astonishing to think about and consider the fact that while Jesus walked upon the earth as the Word made flesh He did not call a Pharisee, He did not call a Sadducee, He did not call a chief priest, nor did He call a scribe to walk with and follow Him, however, after He was raised from death to life, and after He had ascended unto heaven and returned unto His Father who was in heaven, we find Jesus calling a Pharisee to follow Him as one of His disciples and followers. What’s more, is that not only would Jesus call Saul of Tarsus to walk before and follow Him as a disciple, but He would also ordain and appoint Saul of Tarsus to be transformed into Paul—and not only be transformed into Paul, but be transformed into who and what we would know as “the apostle Paul.”

            It is something worth thinking about and considering this particular reality, for when we read the four gospel narratives which were written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ we find Jesus engaging in heated discussions, dialogues and exchanges with the Pharisees. Time and time again you will find the Pharisees having vehemently opposed and persecuted Jesus the Christ—and not only vehemently persecuting and opposing Him, but also seeking to trap and ensnare Him in His word and actions that they might find reason to accuse Him. What’s more, is that you will also find within the four gospel narratives an incredibly strong and powerful desire within the hearts of the Pharisees to lay hold of Jesus and to put Him to death. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is that despite the heated and fiery exchanges which would take place between the Pharisees and Jesus we do not find anywhere in the four gospels Jesus ever ignoring or avoiding them. There is absolutely nowhere in any of the four gospels where you will find the Lord Jesus avoiding the Pharisees of any of the other religious sects and divisions which were present during those days. It made no difference whether it was the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, the lawyers, or even the rulers of the synagogues, for Jesus would entertain and speak with them all. Even more than this is the incredibly strong and powerful truth that within the four New Testament gospel narratives we find Jesus actually entering into the houses of certain of the Pharisees. You cannot read the four gospel narratives written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ and not encounter and come face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth that there are certain and specific accounts of Jesus entering into the houses of certain of the Pharisees—and not only entering into those houses, but also partaking of bread and fellowship with them.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this portion of Scripture, and I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with and by the fact that here we find yet another account of Jesus entering into a house of one of the Pharisees. We already know that Jesus entered into the house of another Pharisee by the name of Simon, and now we have a second account and narrative of Jesus entering into the house of a different Pharisee. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about and consider it is when you read the gospels and see how the scribes and the Pharisees took great offense with Jesus going in to eat with publicans and sinners. You cannot read the four gospel narratives without encountering and coming face to face with the tremendous fact that the chief priests, the scribes and the Pharisees took great offense with Jesus going in to eat and fellowship with publicans and sinners. In fact, if and as you read the four gospel narratives you will find that this was one of the main and underlying reasons the Pharisees and the religious leaders and sects of those days took great offense with the person of Jesus. Within the four gospel narratives written concerning the person and life of Jesus Christ you will find a number of occasions in which the chief priests, the scribes and the Pharisees took great offense with Jesus going in to eat bread and fellowship with publicans and sinners. Not only this, but within the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by Luke we find how in the house of Simon this Pharisee not only judged Jesus, but also judged the woman who entered into the house with an alabaster box with precious ointment contained within it. It would be there in this house of religion where this woman would show up uninvited and would not only wash the feet of Jesus with her tears, and dry them with the hairs of her head, but you also find her kissing those feet, and pouring out the ointment upon Jesus. Moreover, it is within this particular narrative we find and read of Simon judging, condemning and criticizing Jesus for entertaining this woman of the city who was a sinner.

            There is within and throughout the four gospel narratives countless examples of the Pharisees and the other religious sects which were present during those days judging, condemning and criticizing Jesus for entertaining publicans and sinners. In fact, within the gospel narrative written by Luke we find the Pharisees criticizing Jesus for entering into the house of Levi the tax collector whom He had called to walk with and follow Him, and for entertaining publicans and sinners. Within this New Testament gospel narrative we also find in the house of Simon the Pharisee Jesus being judged and criticized for allowing this woman from the city who was a sinner to draw near unto Him and to perform the act of worship which she did. In the fifteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find publicans and sinners drawing near unto Jesus to hear Him preach, and the scribes and the Pharisees murmuring among themselves saying, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” As if this weren’t enough you will journey to the nineteenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel and will find a chief tax collector by the name of Jesus seeking to see Jesus as He passed by on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. This chief tax collector Zacchaeus would run ahead and climb up into a sycamore tree for to see Jesus, and when Jesus saw him in the tree He not only invited him to come down from the tree, but also declared unto him that He needed to be a guest in his home on that particular day. This particular narrative and account must also be carefully considered, for when the scribes and the Pharisees saw Jesus entering into the house of this publican and chief tax collector they once more murmured, grumbled and complained against Him. Oh pause for a moment and think about the fact that there were at least four different and distinct narratives found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and how the scribes and the Pharisees took great offense with Him entering into the homes of publicans and sinners. Not only this, but the scribes and the Pharisees also took great offense with Jesus entertaining publicans and sinners, and partaking in fellowship and bread with them.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that chapters fourteen and fifteen of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke must needs be read collectively and together, for in the fourteenth chapter we find Jesus entering into the home of one of the Pharisees on the sabbath to eat bread and partake in fellowship, while in the fifteenth chapter of the same New Testament book we find publicans and sinners drawing near unto Jesus to hear and listen to Him preach. It is actually quite interesting to read the words which are found in this portion of Scripture, for what we find within this passage of Scripture is Jesus entering into the house of one of the Pharisees, as well as Jesus entertaining publicans and sinners. What makes this truly unique and interesting when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that the Pharisees had absolutely no quarrel nor qualm with Jesus entering into the houses and homes of one of their own, but when it came to Jesus entering into the home of one who was a publican and/or a sinner, they took great offense to such a reality. The scribes and the Pharisees absolutely could not take, nor could they handle Jesus entering into the house and home of a publican and eating and drinking with sinners, and they consistently and incessantly murmured, grumbled and complained against such a reality which was present within the life and ministry of Jesus. Oh if there is one thing I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly gripped and captivated with and by when reading these distinct portions of Scripture within the four gospel narratives, it’s the fact that the Pharisees saw absolutely nothing wrong when Jesus would enter into the house and homes of one of their own, however, when it came to Jesus entering into the house and home of one who was a publican, and/or entering into the home of one who was a sinner, they absolutely lost their nerve and their patience with Jesus. It would be the chief priests and the Pharisees who would take and find great fault and offense with Jesus because He would dare enter into the house of one who was a publican and a sinner—and not only enter into the home of one who was a publican and sinner, but also entertain publicans and sinners.

            It is with this in mind I invite you to think about and consider the following words which are found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke, for within this particular gospel we find Jesus entering into the homes of those who were publicans and sinners—and not only entering into the homes of those who were publicans and sinners, but also entering into the homes of those who were Pharisees. In all reality, it is quite astonishing to read and consider the words which are found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke, for within this gospel—not only do we find Jesus entering into the houses of two distinct publicans, and not only do we find Jesus entering into the house of two distinct Pharisees, but we also find Jesus telling and giving a parable showing the stark and powerful contrast between the Pharisees and publicans when it came to prayer and approaching the eternal Father. There is absolutely not a doubt in my mind that when we read the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke we must needs understand and acknowledge this tremendous dichotomy and disparity that exists between the Pharisees and the publicans—between those who considered themselves to be righteous and holy before and in the sight of the living God, and those who were considered to be unholy, unrighteous and sinners in the sight of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how incredibly powerful this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to a Jesus who was not only willing to enter into the homes of publicans, but who was also willing to enter into the homes of Pharisees. It would be Jesus’ entering into the homes of publicans that would draw the ire and angst of the scribes and Pharisees because He dared entertain publicans and sinners, and it would be Jesus entering into the homes of Pharisees that would draw the scrutiny of some of those same scribes and Pharisees. It’s interesting to note that when reading the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke that the scribes and Pharisees not only took great offense with Jesus entering into the homes of publicans and sinners, but even when Jesus entered into their own homes they criticized, scrutinized, judged and condemned His actions—particularly as it pertains to sinners and the Sabbath.

            I sit here today thinking about this reality of Jesus entering into the homes of publicans and Pharisees alike, and I find myself encountering the tremendous trouble the scribes and Pharisees had with Jesus. If and as you read the four gospel narratives written by the gospel authors, and if you take the time to read the gospel narrative written by Luke, you will find that the greatest struggle and the greatest trouble the scribes and the Pharisees had with Jesus—regardless of whether or not He entered into the homes of their own, or entered into the homes of publicans—pertained directly to the Sabbath and sinners. You cannot read the four gospel narratives written by the gospel authors, nor the various passages which are found in this particular gospel and not encounter the tremendous ire, angst and offense the scribes and the Pharisees had and took with Jesus as it pertained to the Sabbath and sinners. There is something which we must needs recognize and understand here, for it calls and draws our attention to the condition of our own hearts and what we might take and find offense and fault with Jesus over. What’s more, is that not only do these passages call us to examine the condition of our hearts and the offense(s) we might have with Jesus, but also how it is possible that we might be closely aligned with the scribes and the Pharisees in our thinking. In all reality I am absolutely and completely convinced that while the public Pharisees present during the days of Jesus were incredibly dangerous, there is a Pharisee that is much more deadly and dangerous—one which we more often than not acknowledge and address. That Pharisee which is more deadly and dangerous is not the public Pharisee which was out in the open during the days of Jesus, but the hidden Pharisee which is present within our own hearts and souls—that Pharisee which must be continually eradicated and destroyed. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke concerning this dichotomy and disparity which existed between the Pharisees and the publicans—a disparity that existed because of the ire and angst the Pharisees and scribes had with Jesus’ interaction with publicans and sinners:

            “And he spake this parable unto certain which turned in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).

            The words which are found within this passage of Scripture and the parable which Jesus spoke must needs be carefully considered prior to turning and directing our attention to Jesus entering into the homes of two distinct and different publicans, as well as Jesus’ entering into the home of two distinct Pharisees, for in order to truly understand that which is present within these passages of Scripture we must understand that at the very heart and foundation of the Pharisees’ thinking was this trust which they placed in themselves. What’s more, is that not only did the Pharisees place a tremendous trust in themselves and in their own righteousness—a righteousness which Jesus described and declared must be exceeded by those who wished to enter into the kingdom of heaven—but Jesus also spoke concerning those who despised others. It is this reality of trusting in one’s own righteousness and despising others that must be carefully understood, for this is what stands at the very heart and foundation of the narratives surrounding Jesus’ entering into the homes of publicans. The Pharisees and scribes not only trusted in their own righteousness, but they also despised publicans and sinners and viewed them as inferior citizens and inhabitants in the land. Furthermore, the scribes and the Pharisees took great offense with Jesus Himself for entering into the homes of such individuals—and not only entering into the homes of such individuals, but eating bread, entertaining and fellowshipping with them. It is this which we must needs acknowledge and recognize within the gospel narrative written by Luke, for we must needs ask and examine ourselves whether or not we trust in our own righteousness—and not only trust in our own righteousness, but also look down upon, despise, judge and criticize others. If there is one thing these passages bring us face to face with it’s the possibility of the hidden Pharisee within our own hearts and minds—that hidden Pharisee which trusts in our own righteousness, and our looking down upon and despising others. With this in mind I invite you to first consider the two narratives of Jesus entering into the homes of two distinct publicans—Levi also called Matthew, and Zacchaeus. Consider if you will the following passages found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke:

            “And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in this own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:27-32).

            “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho, and, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was of little stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be gust with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:1-10).

            Each of these passages brings us face to face with a publican whom Jesus would encounter during those three and a half years He walked among us as the Word which was made flesh and dwelt among us. In the fifth chapter of this New Testament gospel written by Luke we find Jesus seeing a publican named Levi sitting at the receipt of custom, and upon seeing this publican Jesus called and invited him to come after and follow Him. What I so love about the narrative of Levi and his being called to follow Jesus is not only that he left all and rose up and followed Jesus, but he also made a great feast in his own house and invited Jesus into his home. It is truly something remarkable to think about and consider the fact that not only did Levi leave and forsake everything he had that he might follow Jesus, but he also invited Jesus into his own home and made a great feast for Him. Oh there is something truly tremendous about this concept of forsaking all—and not only forsaking all, but also inviting Jesus into one’s home to enter into fellowship with Him. What we find in the gospel narratives is Levi also called Matthew forsaking all, following Jesus, and inviting Jesus into his own home. FORSAKING ALL, FOLLOWING JESUS, INVITING JESUS IN! In all reality, I find this truly astonishing and remarkable when you take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to what separated publicans and sinners from the Pharisees—and not only what separated publicans and sinners from Pharisees, but also what is so desperately required of us if we wish and desire to follow Jesus. It’s worth noting that Jesus didn’t speak unto Zacchaeus and invite him to follow him, but what Jesus did do was invite him to come down from the sycamore tree, for He needed to dine and fellowship with him in his home. Scripture reveals how Zacchaeus made haste to come down from the tree, received Jesus gladly, and invited Him into his home. It would be there in his home Zacchaeus would declare unto Jesus that he would give half of what he owned and possessed up and would give to the poor. What’s more, is that not only did Zacchaeus offer to give half of his possessions that he might distribute unto the poor, but he also declared that if he defrauded or cheated anyone out of money by false accusation he would restore unto them fourfold. We dare not miss this, for what we find and read here is what John the Baptist spoke about unto the crowds when he invited and called them to bring forth fruits worthy and meet unto repentance.

            With the narrative of Levi and the narrative of Zacchaeus before us we must needs recognize and acknowledge that these were two men who had an interaction and encounter with Jesus. It would be Levi who would be called by Jesus to walk with and follow Him, and in response to this invitation he would forsake and leave all that he had, rose up and followed Jesus, and even invited Jesus into his own home and prepared a great feast for Him. How absolutely wonderful and incredible this truly is when you truly take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to those actions which were taken by Levi after being called and invited by Jesus to walk with and follow Him. It would be Levi who would be called and invited by Jesus to walk with and follow Him, and who would not only forsake all he had to follow Jesus, but would also invite Jesus into his home and prepare a great feast for him. Zacchaeus was also a publican—and not only a publican, but a chief publican—and unto him Jesus emphatically declared that He must needs eat with him in his home. Zacchaeus would not only make haste to come down from the tree and would receive Jesus joyfully and gladly, but he would also offer up fruits worthy of repentance. It would be there in the house of Zacchaeus we find this chief publican not only offering to give up half of what he owned that he might distribute to the poor, but we also find him offering to restore fourfold anything he might have obtained by and through false accusation. Oh we must needs acknowledge and understand this—not only because it is a segway into the narrative that we find in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke, but also because within these narratives we find the Pharisees and the religious folk during those days taking great offense with Jesus and murmuring and complaining against Him for eating and drinking with sinners. The Pharisees, the scribes, and the religious folk during those days—those who trusted in themselves and their own righteousness, and those who despised others—even despised Jesus for His interaction with publicans and sinners. They took great offense when Jesus entered into the house of Levi and sat down to eat and drink with publicans and sinners, and they took great offense when Jesus entered into the house of Zacchaeus who was a chief publican. With this before you in your mind I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of this New Testament gospel:

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. AND HE WENT INTO THE PHARISEE’S HOUSE, AND SAT DOWN TO MEAT. And, behold, a woman in the city, WHICH WAS A SINNER, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, THIS MAN, IF HE WERE A PROPHET, WOULD HAVE KNOWN WHO AND WHAT MANNER OF WOMAN THIS IS THAT TOUCHETH HIM: FOR SHE IS A SINNER. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kis my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke 7:36-50).

            This narrative is the first of two narratives in which we find Jesus entering into the house of a certain of the Pharisees, and it is in this narrative we find Simon inviting Jesus into his own home—much like Levi had done, and much like Zacchaeus would do. What’s more, is that not only do we find this Pharisee Simon inviting Jesus into his own home, but we find Jesus going into to this Pharisee’s house and sitting down to meat with him. What we must needs recognize concerning this particular narrative is that when Jesus entered into the house of this Pharisee a woman from the city who was a sinner entered into the midst of it—undoubtedly uninvited and perhaps even unannounced. There in the house of this Pharisee this woman would not only stand behind Jesus weeping, but she would wash His feet with her tears, she would dry His feet with the very hairs of her head—the very hairs which Jesus spoke were numbered—she would kiss His feet, and would anoint His feet with the precious ointment which she had brought in the alabaster box. What we must also recognize and understand concerning this woman’s actions in the house of this Pharisee is that not only had she been forgiven much, and not only had she loved much, but she also experienced salvation there in the house of religion. What’s more, is that not only did she experience salvation and forgiveness in the house of religion, but she also experience peace, for it was Jesus who spoke unto her and invited her to go her way in peace. Oh pause and consider how truly astonishing and remarkable this is, for here we have this woman from the city who would enter into the house of religion—perhaps with her sins still yet unforgiven—and yet she would bring forth fruits worthy of repentance through her act of humility and worship in the presence of Jesus. It would be in direct response to this she would not only be forgiven of all her sins—sins which were many according to the word of Jesus—but she would also experience salvation and peace as a direct result of her faith. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for you are now going to see the second invitation given unto Jesus to enter into the home of a Pharisee, and how Jesus would indeed enter into the house of this Pharisee on a sabbath to eat bread. What we find here in this particular passage is quite astonishing when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it would be here in this house of religion Jesus would be viewed and watched with suspicion and scrutiny to see what He would do on the sabbath:

            “And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; and answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things” (Luke 14:1-6).

            The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture must also be carefully considered and understood, for here we again find Jesus being invited to enter into the house of one of the Pharisees. Jesus would accept the invitation from this Pharisee to enter into his house, and Jesus would sit down to eat bread with him, however, it would be there in the house of this Pharisee—there in the house of religion—they would watch Him carefully and closely. Here in this house of a Pharisee we don’t find a sinner entering in with an alabaster box in need for forgiveness and salvation, but we find one among them who had the dropsy. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about and consider it is when you find that even though they watched Jesus’ every move, He was still willing to heal this man of the dropsy. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus heal this man of the dropsy, but He healed him in the house of religion on the sabbath. Oh stop and think about how truly awesome and powerful this truly is, for within this portion and passage of Scripture we find Jesus healing on the sabbath in the house of religion knowing that they were watching Him and showing a complete and utter disregard for the rules and traditions which they adhered so tightly and so closely to. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this reality, for while we find and see in the house of Simon a woman being forgiven of her sins, as well as finding salvation and peace, we find in this particular house one who was healed of that illness which was present within his physical body and person. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to these words, for they not only confront the hidden Pharisee within our own hearts, but they also confront something much greater which must needs be recognized and acknowledge.

            When you come to the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will find the scribes and the Pharisees murmuring against Jesus because the publicans and sinners came unto Him for to hear Him speak. In response to this Jesus would tell three distinct parables—the first parable being the parable of the lost sheep, the second parable being that of the lost coin, and the third parable being one of the prodigal son. The underlying themes of the first two parables is that of the shepherd who lost that one sheep leaving the ninety and nine while he went out and diligently sought for and sought after that lost sheep until they found it. In the parable of the lost coin the woman in the parable would sweep and clean her entire home until she found that coin. Upon finding the lost coin this woman called others whom she knew to rejoice with her because that which had been lost was now found. Oh we have great need to pay close attention to this particular truth, for when we think about the narrative of Jesus being invited into the house of Simon the Pharisee, as well as Jesus entering into the house of Zacchaeus we find salvation coming to two different individuals. In the case of Jesus being invited into the house of Simon the Pharisee we find this woman from the city who was a sinner experiencing and finding forgiveness for her many sins—and not only finding forgiveness for her many sins, but also experiencing and finding salvation and peace. In the case of Zacchaeus we find salvation coming to his house because of his confession and profession—and not only because of his profession, but also because of his willingness to bring forth fruits unto repentance, which were given of his possessions to distribute to the poor, and to restore four fold unto those whom he might have extorted through false accusation. It is quite interesting that in the case of Levi we find him forsaking all, rising up and following Jesus, and even inviting Jesus into his home. In the case of the woman from the city who was a sinner we find her washing the feet of Jesus with her tears, we find her drying the feet of Jesus with the hairs of her head, we find her kissing the feet of Jesus, and we find her anointing them with the perfume. In the case of Zacchaeus we find him offering to give half of his possessions that he might distribute to the poor, and vowing to restore four-fold that which he had extorted from others through false accusation.

As I bring this writing to a close there is a great need for us to recognize and understand that which these publicans and sinners found in the presence of Jesus versus and compared to that which the Pharisees did not experience. It’s truly something worth thinking about and considering how these publicans and sinners found forgiveness, found peace, and found salvation in the presence of Jesus, and how the Pharisees found themselves out on the outside of the kingdom of heaven looking in. What’s more, is that in the case of Simon the Pharisee we find the clearest picture of what religion can’t and won’t do—namely, humble itself in the presence of Jesus and come before Him in worship and adoration. We must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in this portion and passage of Scripture, for the words which are presented before us call and draw our attention to what is desperately needed within our hearts and our souls when we enter into the presence of Jesus. The scribes and the Pharisees trusted in their own righteousness and they despised and looked down upon others, and as a direct result of that they could not humble themselves before and in the presence of Jesus. Even though Simon was a Pharisee and invited Jesus into his house, we find Jesus acknowledging that which this woman from the city who was a sinner did and was willing to do in His presence which Simon was not willing to and would not do in his own home. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s the contrast which existed and which was present between Simon the Pharisee and this woman from the city who was a sinner. Perhaps the greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is who we more readily and who we more easily identify with—Simon who was the Pharisee and did not greet Jesus with a kiss, who gave Jesus no water for His feet, and who did not anoint Jesus’ head with oil, or this woman who was a sinner who bestowed upon Jesus extravagant love and worship. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this reality when thinking about and considering the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative, for we must recognize that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that we are in just as much need for forgiveness, for salvation, and for peace as the woman from the city who was a sinner. Oh that would read the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin and recognize that we were once lost, but now we are found. Oh amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Oh that our chains would be completely and utterly gone and that we would be altogether and completely set free and delivered from our old man and from our sins, our chains, our prison and those things which have kept us bound for so long.

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