May 27, 2020, 2:18 PM
The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in Jesus’ day had one bone of contention to pick with Him. As the Messiah, the Son of God, why did He take particular interest in the wretched-of-the-earth, the downtrodden, those at the bottom rung of the ladder and the outcasts or rejects of society? The problem stemmed from the fact that the Pharisees thought very highly of themselves as privileged religious leaders of the day. They were quick to see the speck in other people’s eyes but failed to see the plank in theirs. (Matthew 7:3) They esteemed themselves so highly that they would have nothing to do with the low class, the rank and file of society and therefore questioned how Jesus could show them such compassion.
They harboured this wrong belief that the people had brought this upon themselves through their own deliberate fault and therefore should be left to their fate. They believed, and strongly at that, that the status of these people was a result of their sinful deeds. For a better life, they only needed to turn their backs on sin. It was for this reason that the masses were sidelined.
At one point, an unknown Galilean, named Jesus, who mingled with this category of people, came on the scene. He dined with them and even paid them visits. “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mathew 9:11) How debasing and despicable for Him to have brought Himself so low, the Pharisees muttered. So while Jesus treated these folks as human beings and as children of God; the Pharisees kept them at arm’s length.
It was evident that there was a sharp contrast in comportment between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus always had a large following comprising of ‘the tax collectors and sinners’. They went looking for Him, to listen to Him teach “... because He taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew7:29) For this reason, they held Him in contempt.
What they had lost sight of was that Jesus had come to seek and to save those that were lost. (Luke 19:10) He had not come to seek the righteous; those that did not need a doctor. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick ... For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12) The irony was that it was the rulers themselves who needed to improve their sight. They needed a radical change of perspective of what they were called to do as leaders. Jesus taught them how by telling them three parables. Take a listen.
In Jesus’ first parable He narrated the story of a shepherd whose sheep went astray and who left the ninety-nine others unattended, to go in search of the one sheep. After he found it, he ‘joyfully’ puts it on his shoulder and brought it back to the fold.
Then he invites his friends and neighbours to rejoice with him. He ends the parable thus: “I tell you the truth that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)
The main character of the second parable is a woman who lost one of her ten silver coins. She had to ransack her house with the help of a lamp and a broom in a frantic search until she found it. She also called her friends and neighbours to rejoice with her over the successful outcome of her search. Jesus ends the parable by saying that “... there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
Who do you think the main characters – the shepherd and the woman -- in these two parables are? None other than our Lord Jesus! Jesus was teaching about Himself, telling His audience that He was on a mission of salvation --- “To seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10). He had come to save sinners not to condemn them. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:17) Therefore like the shepherd and the woman who both suffered a loss, Jesus went all out to retrieve what the devil had stolen.
By taking great pains to embark on a thorough search of the lost, Jesus is declaring that everyone is valuable in the sight of God. We all have an equal value in God’s kingdom and nobody should consider him or herself useless and unproductive. For each is unique; every loss is an enormous loss. Each of us has an intrinsic value. Both the shepherd and the woman in the parables considered every individual precious in God’s sight. Each of them was looking for something expensive and dear to them. The loss of one is as important as the loss of all. In fact, it is not the quantity of sheep or the silver coins that mattered but the value attached to them. Jesus used these examples to portray that as leaders we are called to look out for the lost. (Matthew 28:19)
In these two parables, the SEEKER actively looked out for the lost sheep and the lost coin because neither could return by itself. It shows that God does not just welcome sinners, He actually goes looking for them. When they repent, He rejoices.
See the hand of the devil behind every loss. Remember “The reason the Son of God (Jesus) came was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8b)
Do you consider yourself lost? Call for help. David said: “In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came to His ears.” (2 Samuel 22:7).