Lately, as I have been reading and meditating on the gospels, I am struck by Jesus’ care and compassion for the lost. Jesus was always doing the opposite of what the Pharisees expected. We will see this very thing as we look at the parable of the lost sheep.
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has one 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? And when he finds it , he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says ,’Rejoice with me; for I have found my lost sheep.’ 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. (Luke 15:1-7)
The Pharisees couldn’t grasp why on earth Jesus would spend time with sinners and tax collectors. A Pharisee’s life was spent following the letter of law. They believed they were righteous because of all of the things that they did. Because of this they were very proud people. Jesus said another parable about this subject. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ Jesus responds by saying, I tell you that this man, rather than the other went home justified before God.(Luke 18:10-14)
Jesus left the ninety nine to come and find you and me. We were the one missing and Jesus came after us and found us. This is how I felt when I first became a believer. He had allowed difficult circumstances that drew me right into His arms of grace. I was out and about looking for love and acceptance in everyone and everything other than Him. But God in His great mercy allowed me to enter a week of trails to bring me to Himself. I was the one sinner who repented, who turned away from an ungodly lifestyle to follow after Him. How did Jesus come after you? How did your life turn around after you met Jesus face to face?
Jesus rejoices over us! He is excited when one person who was lost is found. It tells us in Zephaniah 3:17 that God rejoices over us with joyful songs! Do you get excited when someone you know comes into the Kingdom of God? Do you find yourself telling other people about it? Today, think about someone who is lost and pray that they would be found. Ask God if he might use you to intervene in that person’s life. Let’s be a channel of compassion, and seek and find the lost.