The Denver Post as my Amplified Version

by DanWolgemuth on June 7, 2013

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.  And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)

The headlines on most of our national newspapers have provided a vivid illumination to the text of Luke 15. The intensity of the recently scrutinized IRS actions has provided an amplified version of what had been difficult to comprehend related to the disdain for those collectors of taxes in the time of Jesus.

The scandal of the message of Jesus is not that He saved my friends but that He rescues my enemies.

The tendency of my heart is to villainize and to judge. I rally to the cause of rebuke. I am ever so happy to throw a stick on the bonfire of public disgust.

And it is this very tendency that has provided the weight of my own conviction. Would I have been a grumbler in the days of Jesus? If I had been a witness to Jesus departing from the home of a notorious and outrageous sinner, would I have rushed to graceless self-righteousness?

Headlines invite me to a place that my calling does not welcome me. Jesus proclaimed Himself to be a seeker of the lost. A friend of sinners.

He was vigilant in His pursuit of the wanderer and unrelenting in His defense of righteousness.

Jesus walked the narrow way of compassion without compromise; of grace without tolerance.

He navigated the treacherous waters that shipwrecked the Pharisees and looms daily for me.

The grumblers of Luke 15 have a new found relevance and conviction to me. When I scrutinize the headlines, I turn a blind eye to my calling, to my condition, to my Savior.

Jesus offers redemption and forgiveness… and not just to those I cheer for and pray for… but to scoundrels and liars.

Self-righteousness finds no footing in grace. Jesus never intended that it would.

The standard never wavers. The grades are never measured on the curve. But Jesus uses this as His platform for hope; as His foundation for mercy.

When I judge tax collectors I expose my own sin. When I cheer against a sinner I shine a light on the darkness in my own soul.

This is the Gospel. It either makes me worship, or it makes me angry.

Like it or not, Jesus came to rescue sinners. Like those on the front pages of the Denver Post. Like me. Like…

If I don’t praise Him I condemn myself.

Jesus, what a friend to sinners.

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