Questions can reveal so much. Luke records that on one occasion the religious leaders complained to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Their attitude behind this question unmasks how repugnant this behavior seemed to them. Apparently, these religious leaders could not comprehend why anyone would rub shoulders and enter into the fellowship time of eating a meal with the sinfully stained. Their question exposed their value system.
Evidently, even before the disciples could defend their actions, Jesus explained why he spent time with the despised tax collectors and those with sullied reputations. He was on a mission to call sinners to repentance.
Values had clashed. Jesus promoted an active mindset where people mattered, not defensively protecting oneself through isolation.
However, this still leaves the question ringing in the air.
- Why were the disciples spending time with people possessing reproachable reputations?
- Were they just guilty by association as those tagging along behind Jesus?
- Did they identify more with sinners than with saints?
- Were they actively learning how to live like Jesus?
- Had they already captured something of Jesus’ sense of mission to the lost?
Answers can also reveal so much. Do we look like Jesus because we too spend time with those outside of Christ? Even more to the point, if we eat and drink with non-Christians what is our motive and purpose?