Prepare to Listen. Take your time to be still, using this prayer: Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain.
Prayerfully Read Luke 15:1-7
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ 3So he told them this parable: 4‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.
Jesus attracted “the tax collectors and sinners,” the sort devout religious folk, then and now, keep on the outside, at a nice distance. He not only attracted but also welcomed them. The Pharisees and scribes where disgusted and grumbled: “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” They wanted Jesus, their Messiah, to treat people the same way they did; to expect the same high standards and exclude those who couldn’t meet them. Their complaint seems laughable, yet sad. Of course, we want to tell them, Jesus welcomes sinners. And yet many churches today grumble as they too reject those who don’t conform to their ways. They divide over disagreements on who is and who isn’t a ‘sinner,’ as though we weren’t all sinners.
Without rebuking the complainers, Jesus told three parables about the lost—a sheep, a coin, and a son. The common thread in them all is what happens when the lost is found. The shepherd, the woman, the father throw a party, inviting friends and neighbors to, “Rejoice with me, for I have found [what] was lost.” All we’re asked to do is join the party because, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.” That’s what heaven is about—including and loving, not excluding and punishing.
Will you join the party that includes people you avoid today? Why?
Respond to Jesus
Forgive me, Lord where I have excluded someone that you include. I would rejoice with you over one sinner, however bad I think them, who repents and follows you. Amen.
Live obediently. Join the party and rejoice over one found ‘sinner.’
I began reading my Bible when I was 8 years old. I loved it then (albeit didn't understand much) and I still love reading and studying it. I may understand a little more but I keep learning new stuff, seeing things I missed for years. This journey with Luke during Lent has been another new learning experience for me, deepening my relationship with Jesus. I pray it will do the same for you.