Tax Collectors & Harlots

Jesus has compassion on the sinners.

In Matthew 21, Jesus confronts “the chief priests and the elders of the people”, the religious leaders, who claimed to be superior to the common people, more religious and devout. But Jesus told them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John [the Baptist] came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.”

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day looked down upon “tax collectors and harlots” and despised them … thought that they were despicable low-life. They did not understand how sinful and depraved they themselves were … they eventually asked Pilate to crucify Jesus. But Jesus rejects no one who comes to Him for salvation … no matter what kind of sin they have committed.

In Luke 7, Jesus goes to the house of a Pharisee (a religious leader) to eat a meal with him. While they are eating, a woman, “a sinner”, came and began to weep at Jesus’ feet, washing His feet with her tears and hair, and anointing His feet with fragrant oil. When the Pharisee, who had invited Jesus, saw this, he reasoned that if Jesus were a prophet He would know that this woman was “a sinner”. I encourage you to read this account and see what Jesus’ assessment of the Pharisee and the woman was. It is a remarkable story of Jesus’ love and forgiveness for repentant people (“Repentance vs. Practicing Sin”).

In John 8, the scribes and the Pharisees bring “a woman caught in adultery” to Jesus. Please take time to read this account, for it will show you Jesus’ compassion for the woman. He does not excuse her sin, but He does not condemn her.

In Luke 18, Jesus tells a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector, who both go to the temple to pray. The Pharisee is self-righteous and boasts about his good deeds before God, even putting the tax collector down. However, the tax collector humbles himself in God’s sight and asks for God’s mercy.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty … the things which are despised …” 1 Corinthians 1:27-28