THERE IS NO CHAPTER OF THE NEW TESTAMENT SO WELL KNOWN AND SO DEARLY LOVED AS THIS CHAPTER OF LUKE'S GOSPEL.
THESE PARABLES CAME OUT OF DEFINITE SITUATIONS. IT WAS AN OFFENCE TO THE SCRIBES, AND PHARISEES THAT JESUS ASSOCIATED WITH MEN, AND WOMEN WHO, BY THE ORTHODOX, WERE LABELED AS SINNERS. THE PHARISEES GAVE TO PEOPLE WHO DID NOT KEEP THE LAW A GENERAL CLASSIFICATION. THEY CALLED THEM THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND. THERE WAS A COMPLETE BARRIER BETWEEN THE PHARISEES AND THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND. TO MARRY A DAUGHTER TO ONE OF THEM WAS LIKE EXPOSING HER BOUND, AND HELPLESS TO A LION. A PHARISEE WAS FORBIDDEN TO BE THE GUEST OF ANY SUCH MAN, OR TO HAVE HIM AS HIS GUEST. HE WAS FORBIDDEN, SO FAR AS IT WAS POSSIBLE, TO HAVE ANY BUSINESS DEALINGS WITH HIM.
IT WAS THE DELIBERATE PHARISAIC AIM TO AVOID EVERY CONTACT WITH PEOPLE WHO DID NOT OBSERVE THE PETTY DETAILS OF THE LAW. OBVIOUSLY, THEY WOULD BE SHOCKED TO THE CORE AT THE WAY IN WHICH JESUS COMPANIES WITH PEOPLE WHO WERE SINNERS, CONTACT WITH WHOM WOULD NECESSARILY DEFILE. WE WILL UNDERSTAND THESE PARABLES IF WE REMEMBER THAT THE STRICT JEWS SAID, NOT, "THERE WILL BE JOY IN HEAVEN OVER ONE SINNER WHO REPENTS," BUT, "THERE WILL BE JOY IN HEAVEN OVER ONE SINNER WHO IS OBLITERATED BEFORE GOD." THEY LOOKED SADISTICALLY FORWARD NOT TO THE SAVING, BUT TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SINNER.
SO, JESUS TOLD THEM THE PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP, AND THE SHEPHERD'S JOY. THE SHEPHERD IN JUDEA HAD A HARD, AND DANGEROUS TASK. HE WAS PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SHEEP. THAT IS THE PICTURE JESUS DREW OF GOD; THAT, SAID JESUS, IS WHAT GOD IS LIKE. GOD IS AS GLAD WHEN A LOST SINNER IS FOUND AS A SHEPHERD IS WHEN A STRAYED SHEEP IS BROUGHT HOME. "GOD, TOO, KNOWS THE JOY OF FINDING THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN LOST." IT IS A THOUSAND TIMES EASIER TO COME BACK TO GOD THAN TO COME HOME TO THE CRITICISM OF PEOPLE.
Self Application: How do you treat people who were once a part of the Body, but are not today? Can you reach out in love, and welcome them back?
Prayer/Praise: Dear Father, it is so exciting to see someone who walked away from You come back home. I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict all those who are away from You, and draw them back where they belong, with You. Thank You for these parables of Jesus. They show us how much You love us. Amen!