Hitting the Mark
Compassion for Lost and Broken – Part 3
Scripture Reading: Luke 15:1-13
Key Verse: Luke 15:10
“In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
Jesus could not have been clearer about God’s compassion for the lost and broken in Luke 15. I love the way Luke chapter 15 starts: “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach” (Luke 15:1). In their culture, tax collectors were hated people, the worst of the sinners in the eyes of society. The reason for this hatred was, after collecting what the government wanted, they could upcharge people and keep the money for themselves. Most tax collectors got wealthy on the backs of the ordinary taxpayers that were scraping by. We are not sure who exactly the “notorious sinners” were, but they were obviously known to that culture. Both these groups felt comfortable coming to hear Jesus teach; why? How did Jesus treat them so that they would come back to hear more? What did they feel from Jesus; what was the vibe that Jesus gave off, that made them feel welcome? In my opinion, it was unconditional and amazing love. This will become obvious as we study the three short stories that Jesus told in Luke chapter 15.
How did the religious leaders react to Jesus’ caring and loving these tax collectors and other sinners? They complained about it, believing that if Jesus was a prophet of God, He wouldn’t associate with such sinful people – even eating with them (Luke 15:2). It is sad that God’s people had developed a theology over the years that excluded certain people. This exclusion was not based on God or anything that God had instructed for them in the past. They missed the heart of God and allowed their prejudice to rule.
Father, forgive me when I exclude people that you love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.