Luke 15:1: “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them.’ 3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying: 4 ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.’”
The sinners were the ones who drew near to Jesus; not the religious leaders. There was something about the character of Jesus that drew people to Him. These were not physically sick that desperately needed healing; they were sinners and tax collectors. There was nothing in Jesus’ nature that was judgmental to these sinners. They flocked around Him because He was appealing to them. He did not condemn them or let His zeal push them away. His love drew them like a powerful magnet. Jesus modeled love to them and ministered to their needs. There was however, Pharisees and scribes that were in shock that Jesus would acknowledge the sinners. They did not understand that it is not what defines a man that Jesus was caring about, but rather how much they needed forgiveness and love. These sinners gravitated toward Jesus because there was something that Jesus was doing in their hearts. There was an emptiness that only Jesus could fill, and it made them cling to Him
The Pharisees and scribes had indignation toward sinners and tax collectors. To them they deserved hell, and they did not care if the sinners went there. Jesus, on the other hand, saw them as people struggling and hurting, needing a way out from their damnation. He had compassion on them, unlike the Pharisees and scribes who felt they will be getting what they deserved. Jesus would weep over a lost soul that was condemned to an eternity in hell; they would nod in agreement that “they are getting what they deserve”. Jesus never excused sin. In fact, He often told people not to sin anymore, yet He always had compassion. He saw the desperate need that people had to get right with God. Jesus was motivated by love and the desperate condition people were in. Pharisees and scribes were motivated by pride and elitist mentality.
Jesus’ ministry was passionate for the lost soul, who knew that they had a broken spirit. It was through their spiritual poverty that Jesus could do so much, but the disgusting behavior the Pharisees and scribes displayed limited Jesus’ effectiveness toward that group. How can one reveal a sick condition when the other person thinks they are perfect? Jesus used the illustration of the lost sheep to demonstrate His passion for the lost soul. When the shepherd finds that lost sheep He rejoices with great joy. As Christ-followers, are we seeing this world through the eyes of Jesus, or the Pharisees? We must look past our own self-righteousness and see the true condition of the lost and hurting. We must reach out to this world like the loving shepherd, seeking that lost sheep with love and compassion.
Old Testament: 1 Sam 19-21 New Testament Luke 15:11-32