Scripture: Luke 15:1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 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.
Observation: In this passage Jesus is challenging the attitudes of the religious leaders of his day – scribes and Pharisees. These leaders tended to reject and exclude “sinners”, people who were far from God the Father. Jesus didn’t reject them, but embraced them. And as they began to imitate Jesus’ life as his disciples, they were born again. They had been lost, but then were found.
Application: I’ve been that person. The sinner. The lost one. When you’re lost, it’s easy to believe you’re beyond hope. How could God ever forgive my many sins? I was still in the midst of this lostness when I started attending my first church on a consistent basis. True, the church community was mostly unaware of my rugged past, but that didn’t matter. They loved me. They valued me. There was a place for me in that community, despite my doubts. I remember being afraid I’d be “found out” and turned away. Never happened. Instead my life began to change from the inside out. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was “born again”.
And it was the love of the people that drew me in.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, love changes everything. If we’re the ones drowning in sin and death today, give us grace to repent of our sin and turn toward you. Let there indeed be joy in heaven as we who are lost are found. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.