And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” -Luke 5:30-32
The party and the guest list:
There is more to this passage than may initially meet the eye. The Pharisees did not have a problem with Jesus partying and having a good time. They had a problem with the guest list. Tax collectors were hated by the people and had aligned themselves with Rome in their greed. During that time, it was Jews (and, they believed, God) against Rome. Therefore, these tax-collecting traitors were enemies of God.
Why are meals significant?
Additionally, table fellowship was of tremendous significance in first century Mediterranean cultures. Being invited to a meal was signified deep friendship, intimacy and unity. In Jesus' day, Jews rarely dined with Gentiles. And yet here is Jesus, extending grace and friendship to social outcasts through a meal.
Who are we eating with?
Dining with someone may not have the significance today that it did in Jesus' time, but taking the time to share a meal with someone is still a great way to extend them grace, fellowship, and gives you the chance to share the love of Christ in a way that Jesus himself found highly effective.
This article is adapted from A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester.