In this passage, we see the one big difference between Jesus and the Pharisees. And it is unfortunately one of the big differences between God and a lot of people that call themselves Christians today. The Pharisees condemned those who were lost. Jesus sought to save them.
Jesus had just spent some time with the Pharisees, and now he went back to the people he usually hung out with, the “sinners.”
And because of that, the Pharisees condemned Jesus saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (2)
The Pharisees were a people that did everything they could to keep from being “contaminated” by sinners. They would never entertain a “sinner” at their home, and they would never dream of even visiting a “sinner’s” house. To the extent it was possible, they would avoid having any business dealings with them, and it was their ideal to avoid them entirely.
No wonder then that they were shocked at how openly Jesus welcomed the sinner. And so Jesus told them three parables, two of which we’ll look at today. One was of a lost sheep, and how it was so valuable that the shepherd went out to seek it. And when he found it, Jesus said,
He calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ (6)
Jesus then told the Pharisees,
I tell you 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. (7)
Imagine for a moment if the Pharisee had been the shepherd. What would he have done? He would have condemned the sheep. “How stupid could that sheep be straying off like that. Well let him get what he deserves. He deserves to die.”
But Jesus never thought that way. Rather, he sought to save the sheep, even to the point of giving his life for them.
This way of thinking was totally foreign to the Pharisees. But it shouldn’t have been. Had they read the prophets, they would have seen that is exactly the way God is. It was, in fact, the whole point of the book of Hosea.
Jesus then told a story about a woman who had lost a coin. Most likely, this was part of a head-dress worn by married women. It was made up of 10 silver coins, and was somewhat like our wedding ring today. If you can imagine a woman losing her wedding ring, that’s the kind of feeling this woman had. And so she searched every corner of the house until she found it. In the same way, God searches throughout every corner of creation for those who are lost in their sin. And Jesus said when God finds them, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God.” (10)
That’s God’s attitude. But how about you? When you see the “sinner,” do you simply condemn them? Or do you go out of your way to try to save them?
Let us not be like the Pharisees that condemned, but like our Savior who saved us.