The main call of Jesus to sinners is to repent of their sins and seek the kingdom of heaven. He expressed a particular tenderness towards repentant sinners and those condemned to be punished for sins.
Jesus incurred the wrath of Jewish priests and authorities for consorting with sinners. Very early in his ministry, Jesus attended a dinner at the house of Levi, a tax collector. Many sinners and tax collectors gathered at the dinner attended by Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees and scribes watched Jesus eating and consorting with so-called sinners and tax collectors. They asked his disciples why he was doing this. Jesus, who heard this, commented, “The healthy do not need a doctor, but only the sick. I came with a call not to the upright but to sinners” (Mark 2:17).
The Sinful Woman:
There is also the incident of the sinful woman. Jesus was invited to a meal at the house of Pharisee. When he was seated at the table, there came a woman, who had a bad reputation in the town. She carried with her an alabaster jar of precious ointment. She fell to the feet of Jesus weeping, and her tears flowed down to his feet. She wiped the tears away with her hair, kissed his feet and daubed them with the ointment.
The Pharisee thought to himself that if Jesus was a true prophet, he would know how bad the reputation of the woman was and would not accept her offering. Knowing what he was thinking, Jesus told him a small parable. Once there was a creditor to whom two men were indebted: one owed him five hundred Denari and the other fifty. Both were unable to pay, so he let them both off. Jesus asked them who will love the man more. They answered that it was the person who was let off more and Jesus approved of the answer.
Then he turned to the woman and told them, “I came to your house, and no one washed my feet with water. But see this woman, she covered my feet with tears and dabbed them using her hair. No one kissed my feet, but she has been covering my feet with kisses since the time I came here. You did not smear my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with anointment. Therefore, she has been forgiven for her many sins because she has exhibited such great love. It is someone who has been forgiven for little sins who exhibit little love.” (Luke 7:47)
Then, he blessed the woman saying her sins are forgiven. The people around them wondered who Jesus was and how he had the power to forgive sins.
Jesus likened a sinner to a lost sheep. He says that even the least of men with a hundred sheep when he loses one will leave the ninety-nine and go and search for the missing one. When he found the lost sheep, he will carry it on his shoulders and on reaching home, he will call his neighbours and friends. He will tell them, “Join my rejoicing, I have found the sheep I lost.” In the same way, the angels in heaven will rejoice in heaven about a single repentant sinner other than the majority of other upright people, who had no need to repent.” (Luke 12:7).
The Prodigal Son:
One of the greatest messages about sin is given by Jesus in this famous parable. There was once a man with two sons. The younger one fought with his father, asked him to give him his share of property. Taking this property, he went away to a foreign country here he wasted his property in a life of debauchery.
Then, there was a famine in the foreign country and the younger son had to seek a job, feeding pigs. He was so hungry that he would have been ready to eat the husks of the food fed to the pigs, but one would let him. Then his eyes opened, and he remembered how at his father’s house, even the servants would be fed well.
He decided to return to his father and beg for his forgiveness, asking him to at least let him work as a servant. When he was approaching his home, the father spied him from a distance and was filled with love. He ordered his servants to dress the son in the finest robes, finger rings and sandals on his feet. He said, “Kill the calf we have been fattening. We will have a grand feast.”
When the elder son who was working in the field returned home, he was surprised to hear the sound of music and dancing. When he found out about the reason for the feast, he was angry with his father saying that he had always worked loyally for his father, yet he had not killed any for him. The father comforted him saying, “You are always with me and all I have is yours. But your brothers was dead; he has come to life. He was lost, but now is found.”
Jesus meant that every repentant sinner would be welcomed by God as the prodigal son in this parable.
The Adulterous Woman:
One day while he was preaching at the temple, the Pharisees and scribes brought along a woman, who had been caught committing adultery. They said that according to the Law of Moses, she must be stoned to death. They wanted to test Jesus and asked him what they should do. In response, Jesus bending down wrote something on the ground using his finger. When they persisted with this question, he stood up and declared, “Let the one among you who has no guilt be the first to throw the stone.”
Hearing this, all the men around started leaving the place one by one. When everyone had left, Jesus was left alone with the woman. He questioned her whether no one had condemned her. She replied in the negative. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go away and sin no more”. (John 8: 11).
All these incidents reveal the great love Jesus has for mankind and his grand welcome for repentant sinners.