In the gospel of Luke, we read the story of a Pharisee named Simon who invited Jesus to his house to have a meal. I’m not sure why any Pharisee would invite Jesus for dinner, let alone bring in other strict religious men to eat with him. A likely reason for the invitation was that Simon and his friends wanted to determine whether Jesus was a prophet or, really, to discount him as one. The passage makes clear that Simon knew of Jesus’ reputation as a prophet (see Luke 7:39).

Scripture doesn’t tell us what this group discussed around that supper table, but we can assume it had to do with theology. The Pharisees specialized in the subject, and they had tried to trick Jesus on other occasions with fanciful questions. Christ knew what was in these men’s hearts, and it quickly became clear. The next thing we read is that a woman of the streets “who was a sinner” crashed the scene. Here I see Jesus showing us where our focus must be, not on false religion or false teachers but on sinners.

Jesus clearly stated “’Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. …Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’” (Luke 7:47-48, 50, NKJV). Jesus was revealing why he came here : to befriend and restore the fallen, the friendless, those overtaken by sin. He is saying to us today, “This is what my ministry is all about.”

Likewise, says the apostle Paul, this is what our focus must be. We are not to judge a fallen person but to seek to restore them and remove their reproach. In fact, he said the test of true spirituality is a readiness to restore a fallen person. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Paul then quickly added this instruction of Christ’s way: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).What is the law of Christ? It is love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).