Monday, December 4, 2017

God's Love for the Lost

"I tell you there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).

In Luke 15 we find three parables of Jesus that concern our mission to seek the lost. It is interesting to notice the context of these parables. We read in verse 2, “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ ” It was the outcasts and pariahs of society who flocked around Jesus, while the dignitaries of society were critical of Him.

The Pharisees held to a rabbinic tradition that asserted “salvation by separation.” They believed that by keeping themselves away from sinners, they could secure their own redemption. So, rather than being involved in a passion for outreach, it was part of their philosophy to isolate themselves. Jesus directly confronted that tradition by openly associating with rejected elements in society.

Jesus tells three parables to rebuke the Pharisees. In each of them He stresses God’s concern over the lost, and the rejoicing that should accompany the conversion of the lost. The first parable is that of the lost sheep. The shepherd goes out of his way to find the sheep, and then he throws a celebration with his neighbors when he has found it. The second parable is that of the lost coin, and the same point is made: When the woman finds the coin she calls her friends and says, “Rejoice with me” (v. 9).

The third parable is of the lost son. This story describes just the kinds of sinners Jesus associated with, provoking the criticism of the Pharisees. It shows the father yearning for his son’s return. When through repentance the son returns, a great feast is celebrated; but the older brother is resentful (vv. 11–32). Through this parable the Pharisees realized that Jesus portrayed them as the older brother. Just as the older brother was lost while in his father’s house, so they were lost within the household of faith.

Why is it that we don’t feel greater concern over the lost? Is it because deep down we really don’t believe they are truly lost? Or is it that we simply don’t care much about them, so that their lost estate does not distress us? Be certain today to read the “For further study” showing God’s incredible love for lost sinners. Ask God to soften your heart with compassion for these still lost in sin.