The Pharisees continue to look for ways to accuse Jesus so that they can get rid of him. Jesus keeps showing them the hypocritical state of their heart, continues to, in fact, embarrass them, but Jesus doesn’t seem to be phased. These things are all moving forward according to the plan that the Father has set out for him.
This time the Pharisees and teachers of the law come saying, in fact muttering:
This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.Luke 15:2
To respond, Jesus tells them three stories. It is as if he responds to them saying, “You bet. That’s exactly right. I do welcome sinners, and here is why…”
Jesus tells a story of a man who had lost one of his sheep. 99 are still there, but 1 has wandered off. The man leaves the other 99 to go find that 1. The man goes looking because that 1 is important to him.
He went on to tell another story of a woman who lost one of her ten coins. She turns her house upside-down to look for it.
And then finally, Jesus tells a story of a wayward son who takes half of his father’s property and goes to spend it on himself, squandering the inheritance on prostitutes or any number of other worthless self-indulgences. When the son comes back, the father runs to greet his son and welcome him back.
Jesus is telling the Pharisees that these people that he is spending time with are lost and he is out looking for them. He is doing it because like the man, like the woman, like the father, those things and those people who were lost were precious to them.
We don’t go looking for the things that aren’t precious to us. And so, for this reason, we frequently don’t follow in Jesus’s footsteps. We don’t go looking for those who are lost because we don’t have the same heart as that of the Father. Jesus is clear that sinners – those who are lost – are precious to him, but to the Pharisees, they are nothing.
And so today, what do we say? Yes, of course these people are precious to us. Yes, of course we want these people to come to Christ. Yes, of course we try to reach them.
Do we though? Have we actually gone searching as the people did when that thing or that person was lost? Have we really looked, or maybe we’ve sent some money to someone else who is doing something?
Let’s take the next step. Beyond going, is the good news of salvation through Christ actually being shared? Through whom? How many times in the last week? In the last month? In the last year?
I suspect and fear that the answer to those questions is few, or possibly none. And so I think we have a problem. We don’t have the same heart as God for that which is lost, so we don’t go looking. We don’t go looking so we never actually tell people the Good News, the Gospel of Christ, that they can have salvation through him. We have other priorities. We have other things that we are worried about.
I noted here that in each case, there was a party at the end of each of the stories that Jesus told. Each time that the thing or the person who was lost was found, the person who found that which was lost called all of those around to celebrate. Each time. We should learn to come to know that joy, to celebrate the lost being found. We should learn to routinely bring others to Christ and throw a lot of parties because what was lost is now found.