“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him” (v1). Jesus’ stories about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son delighted the “tax collectors and sinners” who gathered around to listen. Recognizing their own sin, they rejoiced to hear about the Father’s concern for the lost. They heard about God’s compassion, His mercy, the way He pursues us and saves us. The Pharisees “grumbled” (v2) like the older brother, because they felt that God was too generous.
The Pharisees accused Jesus: “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (v2). Their own unwillingness to admit sin kept them from receiving the very same mercy.