Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In our text for today, the Lord teaches us something of His purpose for coming to this world. This is the context: "And all publicans and sinners came to Him to hear Him." They were not people of good reputation. The publicans were Jews, but also tax collectors for the Romans. Nobody likes to pay taxes, especially not to a foreign government, not of their own people. The publicans were Jews, so the others thought of them as traitors. Also, thieves, because many times the publicans charged more than the Romans required to fill their own pockets.
However, publicans and others of ill repute approached Jesus to hear him. Sometimes Jesus ate with them. In almost every culture, to share the table is a sign of companionship, of friendship. "And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, This one receives sinners and eats with them." They did not understand the mission of Jesus. So, Jesus gave them an illustration:
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and goes after the one that was lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he puts it on his shoulders, joyfully and coming home, he gathers his friends and his neighbors, saying: Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost."
At that time, 100 sheep were a large flock. But, the shepherd did not say, well, I already have ninety nine sheep, I do not need to look for one. Also, this parable:
"Or what woman who has ten drachmas, if she loses a drachma, does not light the lamp, and sweeps the house, and searches diligently until she finds it? And when she finds it, she gathers her friends and her neighbors, saying, "Rejoice with me, because I have found the drachma that I had lost. "
A drachma was a coin, like a penny. ôSo I tell you that there is joy before the angels of God for a sinner who repents. " Because we are all sinners, the Lord seeks to gather all His sheep in the fold. Salvation is not a reward for the obedient sheep, but it is for the sinners who repents, this is the point, this is the mission of Christ: To rescue the lost.
The Pharisees and the scribes thought that they deserved the presence of Jesus among them because they were good people, religious men. But nobody deserves the presence of God in their lives. On the contrary, the presence of Jesus, the Son of God, was to save sinners by His own blood on the cross. Jesus ate with publicans and other sinners not to share their sinful lifestyle, but to give them the opportunity to hear the good news of salvation.
That, too, is the mission of the church. We look for the people of bad reputation, the marginalized, the losers in this life. All those who acknowledge their sins and repent. What joy for a sinner to repent; but for those who reject the Word of God, there is no joy. As the sheep safe in the fold, as the people of God, our mission is to share our joy with those who have no joy or hope. We rejoice for everyone who receives the grace of God through baptism, or returns to church after a season of absence. We want the restoration of the good relationship with God for all and the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
Send Pastor David Ernst an email.