Read Luke 15:1-7.
In first-century Israel, tax collectors were on the bottom rung of the social ladder. Everyone hated them. That's because they cooperated with the Romans to levy high taxes on the people. They regularly took more than was necessary, robbing their neighbors. They were traitors to the nation. They were truly outcasts in society.
The divine, holy Son of God sought out those who had no righteousness of their own.
"Sinners" were in a similar situation. These were people of low moral character—prostitutes, criminals, and the like. The Pharisees considered such people a stain on the nation—people whose occupations were clearly incompatible with keeping God's Law. They believed these "sinners" were the reason God seemed to tarry in rescuing His chosen people from Roman occupation. Like tax collectors, these people were pushed out of polite society in every way possible.
Both groups—tax collectors and sinners—were lost. But Jesus "came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). So, of course, He spent time with them. He loved them. He drew them to Himself. He called them to leave their sin and follow Him. We might have assumed that when God came down to earth, He would seek out the good people and the morally upright, but the divine, holy Son of God sought out those who had no righteousness of their own, those who knew they could do nothing to save themselves.
Thus, as the Pharisees and scribes complained that He was hanging around the wrong sorts of people, Jesus told a parable. He said that if a shepherd had a hundred sheep and one went missing, he would leave the ninety-nine to go after the one lost sheep. Now, the shepherd wouldn't abandon the other sheep. Rather, with a flock that large, there would have been several shepherds, and it would have been the owner of the sheep who would have gone after the stray. Jesus is that Shepherd. He is the one who seeks out the lost sheep.
In the parable, the shepherd rejoices when he finds his lost sheep. Brothers and sisters, God rejoices when the lost are found. God rejoices when there is repentance and healing. And so, too, should we. If we are Jesus' friends, we will be people who find joy in the things that bring Him joy.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for being my Shepherd, for coming to seek and save me. I rejoice in Your tender care and love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" (Luke 15:4).
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