Jesus, the eternal Son of God made flesh, the One who created all that exists and is the true Lord of the cosmos, is a friend of sinners. The kingdom of God, revealed in Jesus, is not a time when sinners face the wrath of the Almighty; instead, it is a time when they encounter the Father's love and mercy—a mercy and love made tangible in the God-Man, Jesus.
And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
In dining with sinners, Jesus demonstrates radical hospitality and inclusion, as He embraces those who have willfully and deliberately violated God's covenant. They are the lost, those who have strayed from the faithful flock—the unfaithful, the prodigals sons and daughters, homesick exiles far from home.
‘Jesus sits at the table with sinners, not as a severe judge but as a reassuring friend. Grace comes before judgment in God's reign. God is good news, not a threat.Sinners and prostitutes can rejoice, drink wine and sing with Jesus.
These meals are a true miracle that is healing them from within. They begin to sense that God is not a sinister judge who waits for them in anger, but a friend who comes offering them friendship.’
Jesus: A Historical Approximation , Jose Pagola
Jesus' profound holiness is entwined with His extravagant love; He doesn't retreat from sinners but moves closer to them. He stoops, humbling Himself, even in the face of potential damage to His reputation, by sitting with, speaking to, listening to, and sharing meals with those whom society has deemed outsiders—those who, through their pursuit of sin, have been labeled as sinners.
When Jesus finds the lost, and when sinners hear His call, they do not remain the same; instead, they repent and undergo a paradigm shift in terms of both identity and direction. Many follow Jesus on this path and become joyful participants in the kingdom.
The unthinkable has happened: the lost are now found, the excluded are included, mercy instead of judgment, kindness instead of wrath, and homecoming instead of exile. In the finding and the friendship, in return and repentance, heaven rejoices and the kingdom of God draws near.