Over time, the connotations behind certain words and phrases can change. When I was in school, “nerd” was largely seen as an insult, meant to tear down someone who enjoyed math, science, reading, computers, or some other subject. I was often called a nerd—and it hurt. But today, “nerd” has a less pejorative context and is often seen as a good thing.
What was once seen as an insult has become a badge or honor or a matter of pride. Being a nerd is not such a bad thing these days! Interestingly, the people of Jesus’ time would mock Him, but I imagine Jesus wearing those insults as a badge of honor instead. Take our Gospel reading this week for example:
And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2
This man receives sinners and eats with them… To the Pharisees and scribes this was clearly a bad thing, and yet this is exactly why Jesus came into the world! The Father saw how messed up we were—how sinful we were—and had to act. He loved us too much not too, and so He sent His Son Jesus to live among us, receiving sinners to himself and even dining with them.
I am the sinner that Jesus came to save. You are the sinner that Jesus came to save. Your parent, friend, spouse, child, neighbor, your enemy—these are the sinners Jesus came to save. Jesus came into the world for this very reason: To welcome sinners back into a relationship with God. He came to pay the price for our sins and make us clean again. Paul wrote to Timothy, a young pastor he mentored, and said:
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Timothy 1:15
This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom You and I are the foremost. Praise be to Him for His grace toward us!