The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
When I was hired to be the youth minister at First Baptist Dallas, my first job was to go with the students on a chapel choir tour to Russia. The year was 1978. At that time, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were at a zenith, and we felt that while we were in Russia. We were relieved when the time came for us to leave that oppressive atmosphere.
At the airport, Soviet soldiers were there with machine guns as the kids and the other sponsors went through passport control. When it was finally my turn, I reached into my pocket for my passport–and it was not there. Frantically I searched all my pockets. No passport. I went to the soldiers and explained my plight, but they were unmoved. I had visions of Siberian work camps in my mind. I did not know what I was going to do! All of a sudden, a sponsor on the other side began to laugh, and then he reached into his pocket and pulled out my passport. Turns out he had decided to have a little fun with me. I assure you, my thoughts were not holy at that moment.
When I was reunited with my passport, did I throw it away in disgust? No, I clung to that passport, and I vowed never to let it out of my sight again. When we lose something of value, we do not hate it; instead, we search for it and are overjoyed when we find it. Lost things have great value to us, and they have great value to God. That is the theme of the three parables in Luke 15.
Verse 1 says, “All the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.” The tax collectors were Jews who had sold out to the Roman government and cheated their fellow Jews. And “sinners” refers to Gentiles who were being attracted to Jesus’s ministry. The Pharisees had rejected these people, saying, “God hates you. He wants to keep you out of heaven.” But Jesus said, “God loves you. He wants you to be a part of His kingdom.” People today are still attracted to that message. We need to have the same compassion in our hearts toward those who are lost that Jesus had. That is why people came to listen to Him.
Look at verse 2: “Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” What the Pharisees meant as a criticism Jesus took as the supreme compliment because that was His mission: “to seek and to save that which was lost” (19:10). Jesus was simply reflecting the heart of God the Father. God does not hate lost people; instead, God loves sinners. He searches for them, and He is overjoyed when He finds them.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Value Of Lost Things” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org