November 4 - Luke 15:1-7

Monday, November 4, 2013

Luke 15:1-7 – The Lost Sheep

In the Gospel of Luke, we find four separate events when Jesus associates with sinners and is then called to task for it by the Pharisees. There was an enormous class difference in that culture and the very religious had nothing to do with anyone who might cause them to be considered sinful.

In Luke 5:27-32, Luke 7:39 and in Luke 19:7, these Pharisees do the same thing they do here – they grumbled because Jesus spends time with people who are deemed to be less than perfect.

We find at the beginning of this passage that tax collectors (a particularly despicable sort – they were considered immoral because of the work they did, collecting money from people to turn over to the government and often collecting more than necessary to line their own pockets) and other sinners were drawn to Jesus. In him they found holiness rather than prideful and contemptuous self-righteousness. They found genuine love rather than disdain. They found hope in the midst of their circumstances.

These tax collectors and sinners no longer had rights to a relationship with God by the letter of the Law. With the coming of Jesus, the door which had been slammed shut by their own guilt, was re-opened.

Their miserable state opened the way for God to be compassionate with them. Imagine the story of the lost sheep. If that sheep had not been lost, there would have been no need for the shepherd to search for it. God seeks sinners, because the sinner is in such great need.

Those hundred sheep that were left in the open country to fend for themselves? They've figured it out and don’t need God to show up and hold them. They are already in safety. But, God seeks out the lost, the sinners, the ones who are miserable. He goes far beyond what is necessary. It might not seem worth it to those of us who measure things and create metrics for our lives, but for God … that one lost sheep, the sinner, the tax collector is of utmost importance.