Luke 15:2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Can you imagine what it would take to openly eat with a different cultural group? Have you ever gone to a local tavern and attempted to connect with people from a different social or economic background?
Jesus grew up on the religious side of town. His mother offered the right sacrifice after he was born. They traveled regularly as a family to the temple. He began his ministry by reading the scroll of Isaiah. His neighbors probably thought of him as the local boy who did well. So it was no surprise that the Pharisees noticed that he was eating with the local riffraff. But what would those irreligious people think when Jesus started showing up and welcoming them to eat with him?
Recently my wife and I went to a restaurant and were seated at a table for four, leaving two empty seats. Across the aisle was another couple, complete strangers from a different social background, also dining at a table for four with two empty chairs. They had their reasons for dining out and we had ours. I supposed they deserved a quiet dinner as much as we did. But, as we left I wondered if we and they might have enjoyed dinner all the more if one of the four of us had reached across the aisle and welcomed the other couple to dine at one table.