Scripture Reading: The Parable of the Lost Sheep / The Parable of the Lost Coin
The setting that we find this scripture passage from is one of those times when Jesus is surrounded by tax collectors, sinners, undesirables; outcasts in general from proper Jewish society. So the Pharisees are grumbling that Jesus, who in many ways is respected by many of them, will sit a table with the unclean, the unacceptable, within their society. There’s a strong tradition to that. Part of that history goes all the way back to the book of Exodus. There are passages there that became interpreted by the rabbi’s over the ages to have a very specific meaning. In fact one of those meanings, one of those that they referred to as a Mekhilta, a rabbinical saying which translated means measure or rule; one of those specifically says, let not a person associate with sinners even to bring them near to the Torah, to God’s Word. That long-standing tradition permeates the perspective of the Pharisees and the Scribes. Feeding sinners was praiseworthy but eating with them was unacceptable, forbidden.