For the past few days, we’ve talked about three types of “untouchables” whom Jesus readily touched — lepers, Samaritans, and Pharisees — and what His actions teach us about extending love to the least deserving in our lives. Today, I want to examine the fourth and final group of outcasts our Savior welcomed, and that is tax collectors and sinners. Perhaps the most shocking of all, these were the gang members, derelicts, and drug addicts of the day — the kind we would be afraid to go near. They were also the robbers and crooks; the type who were known to have no regard for the people who tried to do right by God and their fellow man. In fact, tax collectors were considered the worst offenders when it came to cheating and dishonesty. They were seen as traitors, because although they were Jewish, they “sold their souls” and went to work for the Roman Empire. Not only did they betray their countrymen by pledging allegiance to the foreign occupants of Israel, but they knowingly cheated the working class of their hard-earned wages. When they collected tax revenue, they knew how much Rome required, and they arbitrarily added to that an additional percentage, which was their take-home pay. In other words, if they were instructed to collect 10%, they would collect 12% and keep the extra 2% for themselves. For this reason, they were hated, and for a righteous man — let alone the Messiah — to show any concern for them was absolutely appalling. Nevertheless, Jesus walked right in and sat down at their table. He opened up His heart to let them know that they mattered, and in so doing, He modeled for us what it means to actively and intentionally touch the untouchable.
My friend, I know it’s hard, but your Savior invites you to heap grace upon those whose actions cause the most harm. The ones who are the least lovable are in the greatest need of hope, and the Holy Spirit empowers you to be His hands and feet to offer it to them generously and unconditionally. By humbling yourself and lifting up a prayer, showing hospitality, or giving of your time and resources to help, you prove that there is no partiality in divine love, and you make the invisible God visible to everyone you encounter.