Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.” Luke 15:1-12
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Yesterday we saw that the Master Teacher, Jesus, taught the crowds in parables while to those who were drawn to him, stayed with him after the crowds were gone, and followed him, he explained his parables and revealed the mystery of the kingdom of God. It is important to remember that the crowds included those who truly followed him and the parables were very much given to them as well. Each time Jesus taught he gained new followers who stuck around and joined his other followers to hear him explain his parables and teach them the mysteries of his kingdom. The parables of Christ were powerful stories he used draw-in to himself those who had responsive hearts.
Those who were unresponsive included the grumbling Pharisees and scribes like we see in our passage for today. The Pharisees and Scribes were there to find fault with Jesus and oppose him. They were not happy that Jesus associated with the tax collectors and sinners who had come to listen to him. It is precisely because of this that Jesus shares three parables about that which is lost being found and the rejoicing that should result. As we seek to understand these parables or any of his parables, the context will help us see the purpose behind the parable and the purpose behind the parable will help us understand the meaning of the parable. The context reveals the reality that the Pharisees and scribes had no place in their heart for reaching the lost and rejoicing over them being found. It is this reality that must be kept in mind in our interactions with today’s three parables, particularly the third one (Be sure to read it in its entirety in Luke 15:11-32).
There is so much that is fundamentally wrong with the Pharisees and scribes. It begins with the fact that they think they are righteous. It moves to them not knowing they are sinners who need to repent. Next, we see that there are some people they absolutely hate and for whom they have absolutely no love. And finally, they think that if Jesus is really a spiritual leader, he should join them in their hatred of the so-called "scum" and that he should have absolutely no association whatsoever with them. It is interesting that elsewhere Jesus says he did not come to call those who think they are righteous. I think Jesus says this because he cannot call those who think they are righteous. Jesus is talking about the self-righteous and the self-righteous don't think they need a savior and if you don't think you need a Savior, you don't need Jesus and you certainly won’t follow him..
I don't think there are any of us that entirely escape the syndrome of the Pharisees and scribes. Apply the love test: is there anyone I think should be excluded from ever knowing Christ's love and presence. If there is anyone we have put into this category, then we are guilty and we either don't understand why we need a Savior or we have forgotten why we needed Christ in the first place. We are all just as sinful in God's eyes. The difference is that some people manifest it (in our eyes) more readily than others. We may not be as blatant about things as the Pharisees and scribes in our passage but we are like them.
Another way to look at this is like this: somewhere buried in my soul is the notion that I deserved (to some degree however small) to be saved while some others (scum) don't. Somehow, we escaped the syndrome of the Pharisees and scribes enough to receive the forgiveness of sins through Christ but not enough to rid us of self-righteousness and to make us lovers of people (all people) like Christ. To rid ourselves of this inconsistency we need to meditate long and hard on what it means to need a Savior at the beginning and along the way. We need to live life as ones who always need a Savior (my salvation was totally undeserved and unearned and it is Christ and Christ alone who can produce righteousness in me) because slipping into a self-righteous Christian lifestyle somewhere along the way happens readily and when it does are hearts will become hardened to the lost being found (at least some of them) and the rejoicing that should result.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, I want to be your follower in the fullest sense. Help me to see more clearly what it means to rejoice in the lost being found. Help me to grasp how strong and deep your abhorrence is for the "self-righteous religious path of the Pharisees and scribes" to which I am so prone. I confess that far too often I find joy from feeling alright about myself because I think I have accomplished so-called righteous living. Deliver me from self-righteousness. Show me how to absolutely depend on your indwelling presence and fill me up with your love and compassion to such an extent that it freely flows from me to others (all others). I want to rejoice truly and fully in the lost being found. Amen!
Posted on Tue, January 22, 2019
by Ken Hart