Luke’s Gospel is very clear on the fact that Jesus loves sinners. Long before we get to the parables in chapter 15, we see Jesus creating controversy among the religious people of the day because he refused to thumb his nose at people who were in need of healing from sin. Just look at Peter for example. He was a rough fisherman who wasn’t a good enough student to study under the learned rabbis of the day. But Jesus goes up to him and says, “Follow me.”
Luke’s Gospel goes on to say that Jesus causes Peter to witness a miraculous catch of fish - so many fish at once that the boats almost sink. When Peter sees the miracle he realizes his own sinful state in the presence of the holy Jesus, and he says, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
But Jesus doesn’t go anywhere. Instead he makes Peter his disciple. Others had given up on this sinful fisherman, but not Jesus – even when Peter later denied him, Jesus sought him out and restored him to fellowship.
Another example Luke gives is when Jesus is eating dinner at the house of a Pharisee named Simon and a “sinful” woman arrives with an expensive jar of perfume. She stands behind Jesus weeping and letting her tears drip on his feet. She then wipes off the tears with her hair, kisses his feet, and pours the perfume on them.
Jesus’ host sees this and mutters to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus then tells him a parable:
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”