These stories were told to the publicans and the tax collectors. Tax collectors worked form the Roman government. They were considered traitors, collaborating with the “enemy.” Tax collectors were shunned by the jews.
The sinners mentioned here were those who had been “out cast” by the jews.
The tax collectors and sinners were drawn to Jesus we are told. They wanted to hear what Jesus had to say and what he would teach them. They were people who were craving acceptance, they saw that Jesus cared about them and accepted them.
These people also knew that they were sinners. Perhaps they longed for hope, forgiveness and deliverance. Whatever the reason they came to hear Jesus and wanted to hear more from him.
It’s not the healthy that need the doctor Jesus said once… rather it is those who are sick.
Jesus spends time with and accepts sinners. Aren’t you glad that he is willing to spend time with us?
Are we like the Pharisees or are we like the sinners?
Jesus did accept the sinner, he did not condone their life choices. He accepted them but called them to repentance.
The Lost Sheep
The shepherd had 100 sheep. The shepherd cared enough for that one sheep to leave the 99 that were in his fold to go and look for that sheep.
We don’t know what all the shepherd had to go through to find the sheep, but we do know how he responded when he found the lost sheep and then once he returned.
This is a glimpse of how Jesus feels about people. Jesus cares and loves for and searches for those who are lost.
Even just one. Even you. Even me.
The Lost Coin
This persistent woman who lost one coin shows us Jesus.
She turned on all the lights. She looked high and low.
She found the coin! Again, we see an incredible joy once the coin is found. She invites her friends and neighbors to celebrate with her.
The value of one soul to God is immeasurable. Jesus is concerned about each one of us, personally, individually.
Jesus welcomed sinners. Aren’t you glad?
The Lost Son
The younger son wanted his money. In one sense he seems to be saying, “I wish my dad was gone. I don’t care what he is, stands for and tells me.”
The father didn’t force his son to stay. The father gave his son his share of the inheritance.
The son, like us when we turn from God, started to “live it up.” He was trying to enjoy life. He was partying. He had friends.
And then the money ran out.
This man had no one to help him. Pure destitution. The human condition on our own. This man had strayed from his father (God) he was lost and alone. He was miserable and guilty.
The repentance began when the son realized that he had made a huge mistake.
The father was watching, waiting. When he saw his young son a long ways off he ran to him and hugged him and kissed him.
The confession was made.
The son was restored to his position in the family. A feast was thrown. The lost son was found. He was dead, now he was alive.
This is a picture of God’s grace. He forgives sins and adopts repentant sinners into his family.
Jesus welcomes sinners into the family.
The Rest of the Story
The older brother was angry and peeved by his fathers acceptance, forgiveness and grace towards the younger son. This grace was extended to the older son as well.
How did the younger son live after this? Did he continue on, respecting, loving and considerate towards his fathers and others?
How about the older son? Did he accept his brother again, did he forgive him?
We don’t know what happened, but we can put ourselves in both of their places and ask ourselves what happens next. What will we do with the grace that has been extended to us?