Jesus was welcoming sinners and eating with them. How could he do that? Doesn’t he know they are disobeying God? Doesn’t he know they are going to bring down his reputation? He knows. And still he will invest in those who are lost from God. Will you?
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
It’s pretty clear why. We are God’s sheep and he will leave the rest of the flock to get one back. Then he will rejoice when he finds his lost sheep. So now we understand it. So what?
How about the lost in your life? How about the lost in your family? We care about the lost, yet we are picky and choosy at times over when we eat with them or welcome them. Me included. I’m not immune.
In fact, I fall into viewing the lost through my eyes instead of through God’s eyes. That’s a real danger. Remember, God views the lost – the sheep that has wandered from the flock – as a precious person who is worth chasing and rescuing.
Sometimes we, including me, take a human (and fallen) approach and become frustrated with the lost person for being lost, or judgmental of the lost person for getting lost. Those thoughts are not about finding and bringing the lost sheep back. Rather, they are Pharisee and teacher of the law thoughts about how wrong a person is and how they should be avoided.
How we think and what we believe impacts what we do. And we should think differently about those lost people we are frustrated with. They’re lost. They’re acting like they are lost. We shouldn’t expect anything different. And like Jesus, we should accept them where they are.
Maybe, just maybe, they will trust us enough to let us put them on our shoulders to carry them back. Oh… you didn’t want to do the heavy lifting? Sorry for your luck.
Following the Good Shepherd means we get to carry crosses and sheep. Brace yourself…