Luke 15:1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Jesus frustrated the religious officials by the way in which he ministered. He didn’t do things the way that they would have expected but neither did they listen to or heed his words. The tax collectors and sinners were outcasts of society and the Pharisees and scribes would not have wanted to be near them. Jesus tried to take his message of hope to the Pharisees and scribes but upon rejecting him, he went to those who would listen. It was the unexpected people of society who came near and paid attention to what Jesus had to say. Jesus didn’t do anything to gain personal approval or power within society. He didn’t belong to the powers of this world and so he continued to confound the people as he clothed himself in humility and poverty to save all of humanity.
The word confound may resonate for numerous reasons. Often we are confounded by what we are experiencing in the world and we try to make sense of it all. While we can ponder the things of this world, it is when we try to get our head around the kingdom of God that we really become confounded. It is in this space where Jesus goes against all the constructs that we think should exist. His response has nothing to do with his contemporary political context, but everything to do with living out his kingdom responsibility.
Jesus’ kingdom is simply confounding and he is the example for us to follow. First of all, we are to be a people who will listen. It may be easy to fall into the trap of the Pharisees and scribes. They were unwilling to listen to what Jesus had to say and we may become too busy to really pay attention to what Jesus wants. Jesus just kept moving until he found a people who would come near to him, pay attention and listen. Jesus went to the unwelcome and welcomed them, showing great hospitality.
If I am to follow Jesus in this life then I, too, must clothe myself in humility, reaching out as the hands and feet of Jesus to touch those with the greatest need. This is what confounds those around us because it makes no sense in the eyes of those seeking power. Following Jesus requires self-emptying and putting the needs of others above our own. It means that we intentionally seek out those who may not be like us and we bring them the good news of Jesus.
Following Jesus means that I practice hospitality among those who need it most. Just as we are welcomed to the table of fellowship with our Lord, so we welcome others. Space must be created for all to come near and listen. Jesus confounded the religious leaders by tearing down the walls of social construction. He loved those whom the world had deemed unlovable.
When we are clothed with Christ our behaviors and responses will be confounding as we welcome the sinner and show hospitality to those who are undeserving. This is confounding.
Lord, please help me to follow you and serve you in the kingdom. Amen.