Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Seeking That Which Is Lost

"But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).

Today we come to Jesus’ evangelistic parables. Their common theme illustrates the mission of Christ: seeking and saving the lost. Unfortunately, in some churches today, Jesus’ call to evangelism is regarded as unnecessary and even a violation of human rights. To deny the validity of evangelism in the church borders on treason because it is the mandate and the example of Christ.

It is important to take note of the context in which Jesus delivered these parables. Luke tells us “the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him” (Luke 15:1). The Pharisees muttered about this, remarking that Jesus welcomed sinners and ate with them.

They were appalled that Jesus spent time with immoral people and other outcasts. In fact, the Pharisees believed they attained their holiness through segregation. Luke has an overarching concern in his gospel and in the book of Acts to carefully show that the Good News is for everyone—Gentile and Jew, man and woman. Thus, Luke reacts vigorously against the doctrine of salvation by segregation, a view that is utterly contrary to the teaching of God, both in the Old and New Testaments.

Jesus first responds to those criticizing Him with the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus is making the point that He has come to search out and save lost souls. When an unbeliever becomes a believer, this should be a time of great joy and celebration in the church. To underscore that truth, Jesus said that even the angels in heaven rejoice.

He then told the parable of the lost coin. Have you ever lost something of great material value and embarked on a frantic search for it? Didn’t you rejoice when you found it? One point Jesus stressed was that both the sheep and the coin were helpless to save themselves—they had to be sought. Yet, these two parables are not about sheep and coins: They are about people all around us who are lost and don’t even realize it.

The church once believed strongly in evangelism and missions. Unfortunately, many of our modern churches are woefully lacking in this area. Is your church actively involved in sharing the Gospel in your community?