Read: Luke 15:11-32
Several weeks ago, we heard the familiar noise starting up. Another batch of hail was coming, and I hoped, once again, that the roof and the garden would be okay. Two other thoughts came to mind. First, the hail we had many years ago that flattened the mature garden and took out the roof. Hopefully, this one wouldn't mirror the previous one! Second, the account in the book of Revelation that speaks of 100 pound hailstones, Revelation 16:21. Oh my! Back to this year's hail. It was fairly small and not as long lasting as it was at other times; so, we thought that the damage in the garden would be negligible. Compared to what it might have been that was true. However, as it is said after reviewing a controversial play in the NFL, "after further review...". The result is often just a bit different. May I explain? Yesterday, my husband and I went through the tomato plants. We were searching for the first red ones, weeding and looking for damaged fruit that would most likely not ever ripen properly. One bucket for the good and one for those that are unlikely to develop the way they should. While carefully examining the fruit, we tossed away many very large tomatoes that had holes. Growing things aren't meant to be pelted by flying ice. I'm sure this is a task we will continue to perform throughout the growing season, and tomatoes are expendable. If they look damaged, they will be taken off the plant. There is not much point in tending fruit that most likely won't be worth canning or eating.
In today's scripture reading from Luke, Jesus addressed the attitude of the religious leaders who often looked at certain groups of people as if they were not worth their time of day. Many of these leaders looked at those whom they considered to be "sinners" with contempt. Expendable. Kind of like tomatoes that aren't worth tending, Luke 15:1-2; Luke 18:9-14. I wonder what they thought when Jesus told three simple stories about precious things and precious people who were lost. Jesus showed them and us how much lost people matter to God through the portraits His stories painted.
He wanted those who viewed Him with contempt because He ate with those they wouldn't give the time of day to understand God's seeking love. God was not aloof and indifferent toward those whom they scorned. In Luke 15:11-32, God's love is pictured. It is for not only those the religious leaders were shunning but also for those who viewed Jesus with such distaste. The Lord longed for all of them to know His love.
In Luke 15:11-24, the heart of God is displayed as the Father lovingly receives the son back with open arms and all of the sweet privileges of a son. Even after he had rejected and showed contempt for the family's patriarch, he was welcomed back home. Surely the religious leaders were shocked by the tender love Jesus attributed to the Father. Yet, there is so much more to the story. The love that Jesus spoke of toward the older angry brother. In Luke 15:28-32, we see it. The older brother was so incensed that he wouldn't join the celebration that was unfolding for his wayward brother. The father wasn't content to simply let him stay in his anger. No, he came to beg him to come. He too was loved, but the love looked so different than the older brother could fathom. It was a love that reached out to both sons, and Jesus wanted His hearers to understand through his stories, the scope of that love. No person was to be discarded or shunned by the One Who came to seek and save the lost, Luke 19:10. Even if there were one whose life looked scarred and marred by sin. Even if there were one who thought he didn't need what the father was holding out to him. Jesus wanted all to know the value of one soul. Whether his actions were similar to the wayward one or to the angry older brother. Each was worth saving.
What a reminder to us concerning how God views our lost precious ones. Whether they are in a far country shaking their fists at God or are living upright lives that make them believe that they don't need our God. God will not discard them or look at them with contempt. While they live here on this earth, He will reach out to them as we pray and tell them when permitted, of His love.
Does it look impossible? Yes, it often does. Yet Jesus said in answer to the question concerning who could be saved. With man, it is impossible; however, with God, all things are possible, Matthew 19:25-26. New birth is always a miracle of God, and those we think to be so hard are no more difficult to make new than we were, 2 Corinthians 5:17. Becoming a new creation is no more difficult for God than His creation of the earth, Hebrews 11:3, and He longs for all to be saved, 2 Peter 3:9. Even those who man might discard as worthless.
So, let's continue to honor God by displaying His heart toward those who don't yet belong to Him and continue to pray for them.