The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them he addressed this parable…
In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Lk 15:1-10)
Jesus’ story picks up turns and twists. He was having a great following on his way to Jerusalem. A great crowd of disciples were following him. Suddenly we see sinners and tax collectors. They come only to listen to him. Probably they thought that they could not be his disciples. Pharisees and scribes would not make disciples of Tax collectors and sinners.
Jesus welcomes the sinners and eats with them. Both welcoming and dining with reminds of relationship and fellowship. Religious leaders of Jesus’ times would not relate or show fellowship with these people. If Jesus was a religious leader and Jesus claims to be one (I have come to gather the lost; I have come to bring the kingdom of God; He spoke so much about God as the Father etc) then how could he do this.
The parables are answers to this doubt. His religion is not to keep the purity of religion by avoiding the polluted. His religion is not dissociating from the sinners. His religion is not an exclusive one. He has come to gather the lost. He gives the first and the important place to the lost. He has come to go after the lost and seek the lost. He has come to celebrate with the lost and gather them back to God.