In Luke 15 we read that Jesus was surrounded by a bunch of tax collectors and sinners. The religious leaders of that day were watching Jesus and complaining that Jesus was spending time with sinners and even eating with them. You see, the religious leaders looked down in judgement on sinful people and couldn’t fathom that Jesus would get anywhere near them. They believed they were better than sinful people and believed that they were righteous.
I love how Jesus responds to them. Jesus responds by telling them 3 parables. The first is about a lost sheep. Jesus said this:
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Clearly, the picture Jesus is painting for them is that He is the shepherd and the lost sheep are the sinful people. You can almost hear the accusatory tone when Jesus asks what kind of person wouldn’t go find a poor, helpless lost sheep. Or even worse what kind of person wouldn’t go find a poor, helpless, lost person. The religious leaders were that type.
Jesus then goes on to tell them two more parables with similar application. One about a lost coin and another about a lost son. In both we see great rejoicing when the lost is found.
One of the most glaring things we see in this encounter with the religious leaders is the massive difference in the way the religious leaders treat the lost and the way Jesus treats the lost. The religious leaders are disgusted by the lost, they think they are better than the lost, they avoid the lost and they judge the lost. Jesus, in stark contrast, is broken for the lost, He lowers himself to save the lost and He leaves the found to bring back the lost.
So that bring us to the question… Am I more like Jesus or the religious leaders in my interactions with the lost?
Here are a couple challenging questions.
When is the last time I went out of my way to love someone far from God?
Do I have any friends that are far from God?
Would I ever choose to spend time with a lost person instead of hanging out with other Christians?
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” -Jesus