Why Do You Go To Church -- Really?
Then the publicans and sinners drew near unto him, for the
purpose of hearing him. And the Pharisees and scribes
complained saying, this man welcomes sinners and eats
with them. And he spoke this parable unto them,
saying. Luke 15:1-3
Interesting story here, what? Jesus is going to teach. Who shows
up? Two groups, made up of similiar people. The first group is
the publicans and sinners. They are lumped together because their
backgrounds and lifestyles are similiar, one as bad as the other.
First, lets discuss the publicans. The publicans were the tax
collectors, you know, the guys who go around extorting working
people on behalf of the government; some real bad people. Their
reputation was so bad, and they were so hated, the Jews would not
allow them in the synagog. They were not allowed to testify in
open court, and if they donated any money to the synagog, it was
refused. Thats' how much they were hated. Can you say IRS?
Then the sinners. Sort of self explanatory, this was a group who
made no pretense to any sort of religion, who looked at church
people clearly, and quite frankly, could not see much difference
between church goers, and themselves. And of course, they were
counted as no different than the tax collectors, for good reason.
Interesting thing is, both of these sorts of people, in this one group,
crowded around Jesus to hear what he had to say. Even though they
were ruthless extortioners and common sinners, they knew an
honest teacher when they heard him. And, they knew they needed
They came to the service -- to hear.
Then we have the next group, the scribes and Pharisees. First, the
scribes. This group, at about the age of 12 or 13, were hand-picked
to study the scriptures, and the law. Back then, to them, both were
about the same, the law was based on scripture. They were tested,
and if they passed, they were allowed to study until they were 30.
Only then were they qualified to be placed in positions of authority,
and many of those positions included teaching what they knew.
Having studied the scripture and the law, they knew facts,
scripture and evidence. Of all people, they knew the Old
Testament, and the prophecies, and the things to come. Should have
known, welcomed and accepted the person and ministry of Jesus.
Then we have our favorites -- those Pharisees. You know, the church
leaders, the "spiritual" ones who knew "everything," ran everything in
the synagog, and hated Jesus. They too, should have known everything
in scripture concerning the Messiah and his ministry. And their only
reason for showing up was so they could act religious.
They came to the service -- to complain.
So, to skip right to the point, why are you going to church today?
To hear and learn?
Or, to murmur and complain?
Next week, the parable.