Read: Luke 15:1-2; Luke 18:9-14
The doorbell rang this week, and a box was waiting by the door when I stepped outside. I waved a thanks to the delivery driver and brought it in. A surprise was inside. One of the bags of flour had split open, and the five pounds of flour was spread all over the bottom of the box. I took out the other items and tossed the box, flour and all into a big trash bag. Flour that has been contaminated is surely worthless. I couldn't cleanse it from the dust and germs that were likely in that box; therefore, I simply threw that flour away. It is one thing to know that a product or object isn't worth keeping; however, it is altogether different when human beings are considered to lack worth, and that's what we run into in today's opening verses of Luke 15.
Right away, we see a great divide between the thinking of Jesus and the way the religious leaders viewed people whom they consider to be sinners. Luke tells us that people whom the religious leaders look down upon had been coming to Jesus. They had come to listen to His teaching. The leaders were appalled that Jesus had welcomed them. He had even eaten with them. Because of their contempt, Jesus told three stories including the one about the loving father and the prodigal sons, Luke 15:11-32. A beautiful portrait of God's amazing love that brings me joy whenever I take the time to ponder it.
In that wonderful parable, both snapshots of the Father picture the loving heart of God. Instead of treating the sons with contempt or holding them at arm’s length, the Father went out of His way to reach out, offering His love to both of the two sons. The Father didn't look at either of them as worthless. Rather than that, His words and loving actions beautifully demonstrated the truth that God welcomes anyone who comes to Him.
In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus reminded us, once again, of that same truth. How differently Jesus and Simon his host saw the sinful woman. Both knew about her sins, but Simon looked with contempt upon her, but the Savior saw her love for Him. Jesus never glossed over her sin; instead, He forgave her.
No doubt, today He still sees the people with whom we often interact as helpless and harassed sheep who are in need of a shepherd, Matthew 9:36. Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who will never toss aside as useless anyone Who truly calls on Him for salvation, John 6:37; yet so many don't know that the Lord looks at them with compassion not indifference or disdain. In fact, He is the Shepherd Who has laid down His life for the sheep, John 10:11, but there is even more!
Though the religious leaders of Jesus' day were often scandalized by His dealings with sinners, the truth concerning Him didn't stop there. John the cousin of Jesus also made it known that Jesus was the Lamb of God, John 1:29. The One Who offered cleansing to all Who would come to understand that they could not cleanse themselves. Not only did the Lord not hold Himself aloof from sinners like us, He also gave Himself as our atoning sacrifice, 1 John 2:1-2. No human being is worthless in Jesus' eyes. No matter how great the need for cleansing is, Jesus offers this unlimited provision as a gift, Ephesians 2:8-9. A gift that must be received.
In Luke 18:9-14, we see two very different men. One knew that he was a sinner, but sadly, the other thought he was fine. Jesus said that the one thought by many to be worthless, went away having been made right with God. Cleansed from sin. Sadly, the one who believed that he had no need for repentance and cleansing left still clothed in his sin. What about us? Do we see those around us who might not belong to Jesus with compassion or indifference?
This week, I was reminded about a tragedy concerning the failed maiden voyage of the Titanic. A sad incident that I had either forgotten or never known. The ship was supposed to be unsinkable, and only twenty lifeboats were available. It is my understanding that that was only half of what should have been provided. Even so, many of those lifeboats left only carrying 1/2 of the passengers they could have conveyed to safety. Many people died in the icy water while those in the lifeboats heard their cries for help. Only one lifeboat turned around, but it was too late for most of the remaining passengers.
We have the only Lifeboat, John 14:6; however, there is room for anyone who will take hold of Him. Since we are safely kept by Jesus, may we look at those the Lord has put in our lives with His eyes of love that long to point them to Him.
Father, help us to never look at people with contempt or indifference. Please give us Your eyes and Your compassion for those around us. Thank You for finding us and that we were not discarded.