Summary: A study of the Gospel of Luke 15: 1 - 7
Luke 15: 1 – 7
When You Have Reached Bottom
Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
The apostle Matthew also wrote about this in his Gospel, so let’s see what he wrote in chapter 18, “10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. 12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
In this chapter our Lord Jesus commences by vividly illuminating His coming statement in chapter 19 verse 10 that ‘the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. The three parables in this present chapter have the one theme, the rejoicing over the finding of what had been lost. Together the parables reveal the reaching out of God towards man, and man’s required response.
In these three Parables our Lord Jesus here delineates three types of sinner. The first is like a sheep, he goes astray through foolishness and thoughtlessness, drawn away by the promise of better pasture elsewhere; the second is like the coin, he simply goes astray by accident or as a result of the carelessness of those who should be watching over him; the third goes astray by his own self-will and as a result of a desire for pleasure. But all end up in the same situation and all need to come back to the father in the same way.
Our Lord Jesus Is the Good Shepherd. He has the love of the shepherd for his wayward sheep as we will see in this first Parable.
Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.
Gathered in the crowds around The Lord Jesus were large numbers of public servants and ‘sinners’. The ‘public servants were those who served the Romans in one way or another, either under Herod or under Pilate, both of whom represented Rome. They would include a large number of tax and toll collectors, men, often brutal men, who had taken advantage of the system to enrich them, and they would be as unwelcome to the sinners as they were to the Pharisees. We must not just ignore the truth about them. The ‘sinners’ were those who did not in Pharisaic eyes sufficiently follow the laws of cleanness and uncleanness, the laws of tithing, and so on. They would include those guilty of all kinds of sins, some mild, others more serious. But all shared one common position. They were despised by the Pharisees. Yet their presence here indicated that in their hearts there was a desire for the truth, and a recognition that their present lives were unsatisfactory.
Our Great King Jesus welcomed them and everyone today as who are seeking to change, not as those who would stay as they were. And while to the Pharisees their presence was an offence, to Heaven it was a joy.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
It is clear that our Lord Jesus welcomed these ‘public servants and sinners’ openly and was willing to eat among them, quite probably often in a kind of picnic situation, although no doubt sometimes being invited to people’s houses. And this was so much so that the Pharisees muttered among themselves at what they saw to be His ‘irreligious behavior’.