Jesus boldly challenges the cultural and religious convention of his day by intentionally associating with despised tax collectors and outcasts (“sinners”). In this way Jesus brings to fulfillment the Old Testament hopes that God would one day heal the broken and forgive the sinful among his people (Isa. 61:1–2; Joel 2:26–29).
God’s pursuit of his people is not based on merit. It is based on our need and is grace-driven. Jesus’ entire mission proceeds on this foundation. It assumes that human beings are not capable of restoring their broken relationship with God, including the destructive personal and communal consequences of sinfully striving to live independently of God.
Discipleship means becoming Christlike through ongoing dependence on him. This dependence involves more than just imitating Christ’s actions. It means trusting in his forgiveness and letting the impact of that forgiveness and loving commitment to us blossom and bear fruit. Changed hearts result in changed lives. Christ’s example serves as a guidepost to his followers for the paths we should walk in this changed life. This desire to follow Christ arises in part from the realization that a person reconciled with God is, and remains, a recipient of undeserved grace.
True followers of Christ are called to reflect Christ’s compassion and holiness to other human beings, irrespective of their race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other mark of distinction. For Christ has shown such grace to us.
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible.