Lucia's Blog: THE GREAT PHYSICIAN
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, December 13, 2018

THE GREAT PHYSICIAN


“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him.  10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? 12 But when he heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”’ 
Matthew 9:9-13


We marvel at the single-minded way that Jesus worked at bringing the hope of a new life to people who were hopeless cases, mired in long habits of sin and corruption. He has shown us the way. Now it is our turn to carry His message to those marred by sin, redeemed sinners rescuing others still lost and dying in a twisted world of darkness and despair.

Our Lord Jesus associated with tax collectors who had a reputation for evil among the Jews.  He healed and taught those whom the Jews often avoided.  Jesus touched the lepers, healed a Gentile’s servant and spoke to and showed concern for a Samaritan woman.  Jesus reached out to those who were nothing like Him.  He set a different standard to follow.  Jesus did not hesitate to surround Himself with sinners, for He had compassion and concern for their souls.  Jesus is the Great Physician for sinners and their Master Teacher.  He approached those whom we often want to avoid, the lawless among us.  Isn’t it easier to surround ourselves with those who are morally righteous?  Our goal must be to have the mind of Christ and seek the same people He sought, to teach them the Good News.  In Matthew 9:9-13, Matthew a tax collector tells us the story of Jesus' call to follow Him, not yet as an apostle but as a follower.  Tax collectors had the bad reputation of being traitors, greedy and dishonest.  The Jews hated them because they worked for the hated Roman Empire, for they collected taxes for a tyrannical Caesar.  But Jesus called one of them!  Our Lord Jesus along with His disciples “reclined at table” with a whole group of sinners and tax collectors.  “Reclining at table” was a common posture for special occasions in those days.  Imagine the Son of God eating, talking, laughing and keeping company with such sinners!  And though neither Jesus nor His disciples are uncomfortable under this circumstance, the Pharisees are.  Notice what they said,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  
It was hard for the Pharisees to understand because to them it was disgraceful that Jesus and His disciples would be eating with such scoundrels and lawless people. It meant that they accepted them and identified themselves with such sinners.  Wouldn't you be upset if Jesus were to come to earth and associate with such lawless sinners instead of us, the righteous?  Yet, our Lord Jesus did that in the first century when He came to earth!  

Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth was to be the Gospel, for He is the good news of God’s saving Grace.  Thus preaching and teaching is essential.  It was the only way of evangelism in the first century as it must be today.  One of the keys to trigger an explosion of evangelism today is to strive to understand how our Lord Jesus treated the lost and how He acted around them.  We must be willing to do likewise in evangelism.

  1. How did our Lord Jesus treat the lost?  
  2. How did He deal with those who were sinners? 
  3. Why on earth would Jesus the Son of God spend time with those who were filthy, dirty and stained with sin?  
The Lord Jesus gives us the answer in Matthew 9:12-13,
“He said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”’  

Oh, I love this Scripture!  It is simple and yet powerful!  Jesus has taught us a method of teaching sinners, for He came to this world to call and save sinners who are very sick because of sin and need a Great Physician to heal them.  This must be our motivator as well.  Jesus wants to heal those who are spiritually ill and weak.  It is marvelous how God can heal the sin-sick soul where there seems to be no hope for healing! So why must we seek to spend time only with the healthy and reject the sick among us?  Do we not care at all about sharing the Gospel, the Good News, with sinners, the lawless and immoral among us?  Do we look at the lost with compassion as Christ did?  Christ did not look at them with disgust, for they were like sheep without a shepherd, scattered, confused, hungry. They were vulnerable and in desperate need of a Shepherd, a Physician to guide and heal them.  Christians, how do you feel when you look at the world around you?  Are you motivated to show compassion by spreading the Gospel to them?  Do you feel only disgust for sinners?  Do you not care that they are going to die without Christ and thus be lost eternally?  Do you feel superior to them?  Are you too proud to associate with them and teach them the Gospel that can save them?  Do you prefer to associate only with those who are good, moral and perhaps religious people?  These people need to be taught the Gospel! They need to be introduced to Christ’s love and ways!  Are you forgetting that Jesus came to save sinners, which you and I once were?  Jesus befriended sinners so that they might know Him better because He loved their souls.  Jesus did not come to save the righteous but sinners!  Don’t ignore the power that there is in the Gospel to change the hearts of men into what Jesus wants them to be.  Let us not be like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time who were very unhappy with Jesus for spending time with sinners, because Pharisees didn’t befriend sinners.  Christian, remember who you were and how far you have come since you obeyed the Gospel!  God has been very patient with us since we first came to Him.  I know He has been very patient with me and for that my heart is grateful!  Don’t forget that sanctification takes time and that sinners need our love and patience.  God wants us to be merciful to sinners, the lawless.  Don’t be self-righteous by looking down at them!  Remember, Jesus reclined at the table with these lawless people to heal and help them have an entrance into His everlasting Kingdom one day.  Do your eyes see sinners the way our Lord Jesus did?  Let compassion motivate you!!  This is the heart of the Gospel! 


I.    JESUS TREATED THE LOST AS FRIENDS AND NOT AS ENEMIES:

In Luke 7:34 we have a great example of how Jesus treated the lost.
“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”  

Jesus answers one of the charges made against Him by the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Jesus was neither a gluttonous man nor a drunkard.  The Pharisees and Sadducees made these charges against Jesus because He associated with those who were not in close fellowship with the Jews.  People who were well known as “sinners.”  Of course, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23).  But the Jews like many today look upon some sinners as worse than others.  In Luke 7:36, Jesus was invited to the house of Simon the Pharisee, a religious leader who was among those in the “approved group” of the Jews.  Simon’s hospitality is limited since he did not want to compromise himself before his friends.  Maybe he invited Jesus to confirm that Jesus was a prophet gifted with power by God.  To better understand what happened at Simon’s house, it will be helpful to have a little background.  In the Old Testament, Moses gave the ten commandments along with 600 other laws.  The scribes added another 1500 laws more to the other laws, building a fence of tradition around the Law.  The Jewish leaders claimed they were following the Law and God’s will, but they were not!  They deceived themselves thinking they were righteous when in fact they did not even keep the Law that they thought they were honoring.  In Matthew 23 Jesus rebuked them sharply because they were disregarding the weightier matters of the Law (justice, mercy, and faithfulness).   In Acts 15:10, the apostle Peter stated that the Jews were binding the Old Covenant which was a yoke that neither they nor their fathers could bear because salvation is only found in Christ Jesus.

Back to Luke 7, Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus for dinner but did not treat Him courteously.  It was common to kiss the guest’s cheek, provide anointing oil for his head and wash his feet with water.  But Simon the Pharisee did not treat Jesus with these social courtesies.  He purposefully snubbed Jesus.  The Pharisees did not approve of how Jesus treated the lost.  The religious elite looked down upon Jesus because of how He treated sinners.  In this story, there was a woman in the city know as a “sinner” who came to Simon’s house.  We are not told why she came to Simon’ house.  But there is one thing we know for sure, and that is she loved the Lord and washed His feet with her tears.  She dried His feet with her hair and anointed His feet with an expensive perfumed ointment.  When Simon saw this, he assumed Jesus could not be a prophet, for if He were, He would have known that she was a “sinner,” and would have stopped her.  Simon did not want to deal with her because she was a “sinner” and not like him at all.  In Luke 7:40, Jesus taught him a parable.  This Pharisee thought he was better than the sinful woman.  I am certain that Simon could not have loved Jesus that much if Jesus had forgiven him!  In fact, Simon might have been offended if Jesus had forgiven him his sins.  He might have said, “Are you implying that I have sins?”  But Jesus turned to the woman and said, “Your sins are forgiven.”  (Luke 7:48).  She wept with great remorse because her sins which were many, weighed heavily on her and reached out to Jesus for mercy. She loved Jesus strongly, for she knew she couldn’t be saved without the Grace of God.  The Pharisees had not learned that lesson yet!  The focal point in Luke 7 is how Jesus treated the lost.  He treated this woman like a person made in God’s image and whose sins could be forgiven.  He treated her with respect and compassion, for He was a friend to sinners!  He did not participate in their wicked deeds or have fellowship with the sins they committed, even though He was a friend to sinners.  He was kind and friendly to them, for He knew they needed a Savior to save them.

Another example of how Jesus treated the lost is found in Luke 19.  Jesus treated sinners as friends and not enemies.  And though He became a friend to the lost, He did not endorse their wickedness or sinfulness.  Luke 19 talks about a tax collector whose name was Zacchaeus.  Without a doubt, the Jews thought he was a traitor who sold out to the Roman Empire and an oppressor of the people of God.  You see, tax collectors were fiercely hated, but this man wanted to see Jesus (Luke 19:1ff).  He was so determined to see Jesus that he climbed up a tree to wait for Him just to catch a glimpse of Him as He came along the path He was traveling.  We can just imagine that some thought to themselves, “There is that rich crook.  This is our opportunity to tell him he is going to burn in hell!”  Maybe I am exaggerating a little bit here.  But really, do you suppose Jesus would have handled it this way?  That is not how Jesus handled it!  When Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in the tree, He said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”   (Luke 19:5).  Jesus treated the lost as friends so that He could reach out to them to influence them and save them from their sins.  But is that how we treat the lost?  Jesus’ approach to evangelism worked better than a sermon about crooked tax collectors.  The beauty of all this is that Zacchaeus turned from his sinfulness, promising to do better.  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”  (Luke 19:9).  Indeed, Jesus treated him as a friend and not as someone He had to condemn.


II.   WHEN JESUS DEALT WITH SINNERS, HE DID NOT TELL THEM 
                                            HOW BAD THEY WERE:

Jesus told sinners what they could become rather than humiliating them.  That does not mean that He overlooked the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 23).  The Pharisees were self-righteous.  They often kept their people from having a proper relationship with God.  There is a big difference between these self-righteous Pharisees and those sinners who were broken because of sin and who acknowledged that they needed to repent and do better.  Jesus did not spend His time here on earth telling sinners how terrible and awful they were but instead gave them the remedy to heal the sin-sick heart and become what He wanted them to be.  In Matthew 4, Jesus addressed the men who would become His apostles.  Don’t you think these men had lived pretty rough lives?  I suspect they did, for they were fishermen who were not thought of as being very religious people and spiritual leaders in that day.  But Jesus chose these men who were not among the rabbis and the scribes.  Jesus never humiliated them by telling them how bad they were.  He simply told them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Matthew 4:19).  You see, we demand that all men be sinless before we have taught them the Gospel, and we are impatient even after they begin their new life. But if we expect so little because they don't meet our demands, we are telling them that they are hopeless.  So if we believe that sinners can never change and be transformed, what we are communicating to them (whether we acknowledge or not) is that they have no potential for the Lord.  And chances are they will never change or be transformed for the Lord!  Jesus never spoke this way to the fishermen who would soon become His apostles. He never told them how bad they were.  On the contrary, He expressed high expectations for them, and thus He equipped them to achieve those goals and purposes.  My brethren, that is what we must be doing today!  We must consider how Jesus treated the lost and try to follow His approach in our lives.  Jesus treated the lost as friends, not enemies and He dealt with them with kindness and mercy.


III.   JESUS SAW THE GOOD IN THE LOST, SINNERS:

Jesus saw the good in all men.  In Luke 10:27, an expert of the Law put Jesus to the test and asked Him,
"Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How do you read it?' 27 And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.  28 And he said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.'  29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?'"

Then Jesus responded by dropping a verbal bomb, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”  (Luke 10:29).  Jesus’ response must have shocked the audience, for Jesus implied that the lawyer did not love the Lord with all his being and his neighbor as himself.  The question that this lawyer asked Jesus is one of the most critical questions any man can ever ask.  It is similar to the question that the Jews asked on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem in Acts 2:37; by Saul of Tarsus on his road to Damascus (Acts 9:6); by the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30.  Any wise man will seek out the answer to this critical question:  “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  There is no more important question to ask by anyone in this world that this one!  It is a question that men must ask to be saved and receive the promise of eternal life.  But such a promise is conditional, for one must do something to obtain eternal life.  The lawyer in context came to Jesus with this question, for Jesus had the words of eternal life.  Isn’t it amazing how Jesus turned the question back to this lawyer!  Jesus simply addressed this lawyer with another question, for this man was a lawyer trained and educated in the Law of Moses and was responsible for answering such a difficult question as this.  Jesus asked, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?"  Like Jesus, we must go to God’s Word to find the answer to any question, doctrine or issue.  God’s Word is sufficient and able to answer any question on any matter.  We must not rely on personal feelings. We must depend on God’s inspired Word which is able to make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15-17).  Although this lawyer understood the Law, but understanding the Law was not enough because it was essential that he obey the Law.  To obtain eternal life, one must obey God’s divine Law (Matt. 7:21-22)!  The truth is the lawyer wanted to justify himself by asking, “And who is my neighbor?”  The lawyer answered correctly, for he understood the teaching of the Law, but he stumbled over the application of the Law in his personal life. His question was designed to justify himself. Sadly, this man failed the test because he did not see the importance of loving his neighbor!

Jesus then proceeded by telling him the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.”  
Even though we are not told the identity of this man whether he was a Jew or a Gentile, we are told that his journey was from Jerusalem to Jericho.  The nature of his travel is not given, and it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that this man had been beaten, wounded, stripped, robbed and left to die.  Jesus said this man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.  Notice that Jerusalem was at least 2300 feet above sea level.  Jericho was about 17 miles away from Jerusalem and 1100 feet below sea level.  This road was known as the “Bloody Pass.”  Jesus and many others had traveled this path.  As this man made his journey, he fell among robbers.  We are not told how many or about their race, but we know that they were mean, brutal and selfish, for they stripped their victim of his clothes and left him half dead by the road.  As Jesus proceeded, He brought three men into the scene.

  1. The first was a priest who passed by on the other side even though he was traveling in the same direction as this poor man who had been beaten and robbed.  The surprising thing is that this priest was a servant of the Law!  He certainly knew better, for he knew the teaching of the Law!  The Law demanded that they show mercy even to a farm animal (Exodus 23:4-5).  God had rebuked the Jews through Hosea the prophet demanding that they have mercy and not sacrifice (Hos. 6:6).  Yet, this lawyer had failed to grasp the meaning of what God wanted!  This priest, like the Pharisees, failed and had omitted the weightier matters of the Law when he refused to stop and aid this wounded, dying traveler.  
  2. Our second traveler is a Levite who also refused to stop and help the injured man, for he passed by on the other side.  And though he was not a priest, he was of the priestly tribe, who were teachers of the Law and singers in the Temple of God. Yet, he didn’t bother to stop and check on the nature of this man’s injuries.  He was not even moved by compassion to offer assistance to this unfortunate man.  Both the priest and the Levite were indifferent to the needs of a wounded brother.  Rather than help, they passed by on the other side, leaving the wounded man bleeding, naked, hopeless and helpless.  Amazing!!
  3. Our third traveler came along who happened to be a Samaritan. When he saw the helpless and wounded man, he had compassion on him and stopped to assist him.  He bound up his wounds, poured oil and wine on them, put him of his animal, and brought him to an inn leaving instructions and money for his care.  This Samaritan man was the only one who stopped and had mercy on the wounded traveler!  It is important that I stress, that the Samaritans (the tribes that were separated from Judah in the rebellion of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12) were the northern kingdom who rebelled against God’s authority.  God in His wrath raised up the Assyrians to judge the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17).  Samaria was overcome by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.  The people of Samaria were removed from Samaria and were taken to others parts of the Assyrian empire where they settled for several generations.  People from other nations were placed in Samaria (2 Kings 17:24).  The people from Samaria practiced idolatry, for they made others gods and served them while trying to serve Jehovah (2 Kings 17:28-33).  To make things even worse, some of the Jews intermarried with the Gentiles, when they were returned to Samaria.  They formed a mixed race that became known as the Samaritans (2 Kings 17:34, 41).  The Jews despised the Samaritans because of their mixed ancestry.  There was an intense feeling of hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans in Jesus day.  The Jews despised the Samaritans and refused to have any dealings with them (John 4:9).  Yet, the amazing thing in this narrative is that the only person who showed mercy to this wounded traveler was a Samaritan, for he was moved by compassion and sympathized with this beaten man!!  You see his compassion led to action, for he inconvenienced himself to aid this poor man.  He provided this injured man with immediate assistance.  He was a generous man who was willing to sacrifice himself to take care of a wounded manWhat a powerful story for us to learn!  It is vital that we show compassion to help those who are lost and dying because of sin!  To have eternal life, we must learn the will of God and put it into practice in our lives.  We must be doers and not just hearers (Jas. 1:22).  Jesus, our Lord, is the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9).  

So what lesson can we learn from this narrative?  That Jesus saw the good in people, even a despised class in His culture.  Are we able to do the same?  Can we see good in homosexuals, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes and many more like these people?  We must if we want to save their souls!  Jesus certainly was not prejudiced, for He rejected stereotypes (John 3:39-42).  What about you and I?  Do we at least try to see the good in these lost and hopeless souls or do we choose to despise them, looking down at them?  Why not see the good in them even if small and try to reach out to them so that they can be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and have the hope of salvation?  It will be good to remind ourselves of our own shortcomings to make it easier to see the good in othersLet these words sink deeply into your hearts!  So as genuine disciples of Christ, we must follow Jesus’ example of how He treated the lost and strive to imitate His approach.  Jesus treated the lost as friends, not enemies.  He didn’t always tell them how bad they were.  He saw the potential of the harvest, and saw the good in the lost, for He saw the lost as scattered and hopeless sheep in desperate need of a Shepherd and Physician to heal their sin-sick soul.


IV.   JESUS TREATED THE LOST WITH COMPASSION LIKE THE 
                                     HEAVENLY FATHER WOULD:

This is clearly seen in Luke 15 which records three well-known parables:  the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.  All three have a common theme of care, compassion, and concern.  Jesus told the narrative of these parables (the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son) because the Pharisees and scribes had insinuated sin in Jesus’ relations with the sinners, for they said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  (Luke 15:2).  Our God is caring, concerned and compassionate.  He yearns to save all men and not condemn them to destruction (2 Peter 3:9).  In Luke 15:1 we are told that the tax collectors and sinners came to listen to Jesus teach.  How wonderful it is that sinners and scoundrels want to hear Jesus’ teachings!  However, the Pharisees and scribes were not too happy about that, for they were complaining.  They said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”  This supposed Teacher sent from God was welcoming sinners!  Now go back to Luke 14 where God wanted a full house for His banquet.  The Master commanded the servant to go into the streets and hedges, compelling them to come to the feast (Luke 14:23).  Our Father in heaven loves sinners and wants them to return to Him.  Both Father and Son wait patiently for as long as they need to, for they don’t want people to be lost.  They are longsuffering allowing men the opportunity to return and be reconciled to God (2 Peter 3:9).  We can see the responsibility we must have toward the lost.  God does not want anyone to be lost.  Sadly those who refuse to come to the feast won’t be able to enjoy the privilege of God’s kingdom.  God is making the offer to all men to enter His kingdom and have a relationship with Him, the Father.

After they had accused Jesus of being friends with sinners, He startles them saying, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  (Luke 15:7).  The Jewish leaders must have ground their teeth when they heard that!  They couldn't fathom how God might be more interested in one filthy, lawless sinner who came crawling back in repentance than He was over 99 righteous and just Pharisees.  Surely they were indignant to hear such a statement.  Jesus declared that there is joy in heaven when even one single sinner repents, for there is infinite value in even one single soul!  So often we minimize the value of one soul compared to many souls, forgetting that one single soul has great value in the eyes of a loving and compassionate God (Matt. 16:26)Yes, we must make it personal even though Christ came to die for the whole world Christ came to die for your soul and mine!!  Once the sheep was found, there was rejoicing rather than the beating or belittling of the sheep that had strayed.  We Christians must have that same attitude of heart with sinners and those who have wandered away from the fold.  Our goal must be to try to win them back to the Lord.  Whether they have never obeyed the Gospel to be saved from sin (1 Peter 3:21; Col. 1:13) or they are Christians who need to be restored because they have left the Lord and His kingdom of righteousness! (2 Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:7-8, 15Let us never forget that we are like sheep that had gone astray (Isaiah 53:6) but who now have repented and turned back to our LordSo we must rejoice when sinners, the lost sheep, are found, just like the angels in heaven do!

Wait! Jesus didn’t stop with the parable of the lost sheep, for He presented the parable of the lost coin afterward (Luke 15:8-10). Both the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin show God’s care and concern for the lost, whether or not they were lost accidentally.  In this parable, Jesus spoke of a woman who had lost a valuable coin.  She had ten coins but one day discovered that one was missing.  She did not make excuses but rather took responsibility for the lost coin.  She did not rationalize the loss, but got busy sweeping the house and seeking it diligently until she found it.  She even lit a candle to look for it in the dark to help her find it.  Once she found the coin, she gathered all her friends to celebrate that she had found what was lost.  Jesus declared once more how much joy there is in heaven when one sinner repents.  We must learn from this woman of the parable!  She took responsibility for the loss.  Like this woman, we have the responsibility to teach others who are lost because of sin and bring them to Christ (2 Tim. 2:2).  We must look for opportunities and open doors to be an Andrew (John 1:40-42), a Philip (John 1:45) and a Cornelius (Acts 10:24).  Since Christ is not here on earth physically, we must teach others the Gospel and make an effort to save their souls from eternal death.  Jesus has already left us His Word to help us make it to heaven.  To our Lord, one soul is of great value!  He was eager to teach sinners and publicans so they would repent.  He would have gladly taught the Pharisees and scribes in like manner, had they listened to Him.  We must make sure not to sin like the Pharisees, thinking that we are better than others and refuse to teach them the Truth because we think they’re not worthy of our time and effort.

Finally, Jesus went on to tell His disciples the parable of the lost son which shows the lure, progress, and end of sin.  It gives us a concrete glimpse of God’s mercy and goodnessIt dissects the Gospel Message to show us salvation connecting the Father’s Grace and the active response of the sinner.  This parable demonstrates God’s willingness to accept the lowly and the lawless.  God’s love is expressed so vividly to the one who has intentionally become lost.  In this parable, the father had two sons.  The younger is immature, impatient and wasteful.  He asked his father to give him his inheritance, which was at least one-third of his father’s estate since according to the Law,  the older brother got a double portion (Deut. 21:17).  To claim his inheritance was like telling his father he wished he was dead.  It implies that he no longer wanted a relationship with his father, for he wanted to receive his inheritance and leave.  The boy took his portion of the father’s estate and went to a far country of sin, wasting his money in sinful living (15:11-13).  He let the desires of the flesh run wild and behaved like a fool, wasting the inheritance that his father had given him.  He is called the “prodigal” son because he wasted his inheritance.  He lived a wild life without self-control (15:13).  This has been the story of all of us in one way or another, for we have rebelled against God.  Any kind of living apart from a relationship with the Father is reckless living.  When we do this, we are throwing away God’s blessings.  In verse 17, we move on to the scene of the story which is repentance.  When his money was gone, and a famine came (15:13-14), he came to his senses. Deep degradation is obvious in his new job, feeding pigs (unclean animals, Lev. 11:7).  He was as low as he could get!  To make it worse, it looks like he wasn’t eating well, for the pigs were eating better than he and he longed to eat the pig food.  When he came to his senses, he acknowledged that in his father’s house there was plenty of bread to eat and to spare, even for the servants.  So there was no more reason for him to continue starving, for he said, “How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father.”  (15:17-18).  He finally realized what he had said to his father and what he had done.  His words in verse 18 are beautiful!  There is humility in his repentance, for he said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”  Repentance is recognizing our wicked ways and turning back to the Father with complete humility.  And this is exactly what this son does.  So what is the reaction of the father when the son comes back?  When the father sees his son returning to him, while he was still a long way off, he felt compassion, and he ran, embraced and kissed him.  He called for the best robe, a ring for his son’s hand, shoes for his feet. He requested that they bring the fatted calf, to kill it and dress it for a feast.  The father said, “Let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”  (15:25-32).

In verses 31-32 when the older son heard the news that his brother had come back, he was angry and refused to go in.  The father came out and urged him to come to celebrateSo why is the older brother so upset?  Because he felt it was unfair for his younger brother to be treated with so much honor.  He had faithfully worked in his father’s fields and had not rejected his father’s leadership and instruction.  But he was envious, for his father had never celebrated his faithfulness with such a feast like this one (15:29-30).  He thought it was unfair to celebrate with so much gladness, so he refused to recognize the returning of the prodigal brother.  Since he despised his sinful brother, he tried to change his father’s kindness and compassion (15:30).  Thus he tried to make his father look reckless, unwise and sinful for receiving the prodigal son.  And though the oldest son did not show kindness to the returning brother, his father did show gentleness to him.  Instead of sharp and accusatory words, he pleaded with his older son to help him see and understand things as he did with joy, for he found his lost son (15:32).  The prodigal’s return took nothing away from the older son either, for he had his inheritance without being lost (15:31).  The oldest son’s behavior was unjust like that of the scribes and Pharisees of whom Jesus spoke.  Notice the beautiful words the father said to his oldest son, “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”  This is beautiful beyond words!  So what is the application for us today?  That we must avoid saying harsh things to hurt those who have gone astray.  That we must act like the father in this parable, always having an open heart of compassion and kindness when a sinner returns.  Our Father in heaven welcomes sinners.  But do we welcome them?  Do we look at them with disdain like the Pharisees did?  Do we even try to seek the lost and return them to the Father?  God makes a great effort to seek the lost and so must we!  He sent His Son to die for sins.  He spared the world of judgment because He wants the lost to return to Him.  He wants the dead to come back to life.  So we must rejoice when a sinner comes back from death to life.  The prodigal son might never have returned had it not been for his father’s compassion and lovingkindness.  Remember that the father in this parable is God and this is how Jesus treats the lost, with compassion toward the penitent.  Our loving and merciful God runs toward the penitent one with open arms and so must we do the same!  Jesus treated the lost as the heavenly Father does, with compassionLet this sink deeply into your hearts!


V.    JESUS WANTS EVERYONE TO HEAR THE GOSPEL TO BE SAVED:

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He left His disciples with instructions about going into the world to preach the Gospel.  They were supposed to preach the Gospel to every creature, to every human being whether king or beggar in the street.  They were to preach the good news to everyone, all the lost.  So what is the good news?  It is the death, the burial and the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4).  Jesus came to bring Grace and Truth to this world of darkness (John 1:17), bringing salvation, but we must have the faith to obey God’s terms of salvation.  We are commanded to strive to live by the perfect Law of liberty, and that includes evangelism.  We are to repent and seek God’s forgiveness and keep being faithful to Him until the end (1 John 1:7-9; Phil. 3:12-14).  Those who have not yet obeyed the Gospel must obey the Gospel to become God’s children.  That is, they must bury the old man of sin and wash their sins away in the waters of baptism, for one must die to rise into newness of life (Romans 6).  After we obey the Gospel, we must share and teach it to the lost, for it is God’s command!  He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not obey will be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).  This boils down to how we treat the lost in this world.  Are we treating them as Jesus did?  Are we treating the lost like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day did?  Why not stop and think about it, for you will be judged?  Are we more like Simon the Pharisee or God the Father?  Do you suppose the Pharisee of Luke 15 would have welcomed or received the prodigal son as his father did?  What would have happened had you and I been on the front porch to receive this prodigal son?  Would we show compassion toward the one who has repented or show indignation?  Why is it that unbelievers treat others better than we who are Christians?  There must be something wrong!  We must imitate Christ and treat the lost like friends and not enemies like our heavenly Father would do.  We must make sacrifices to give the lost a chance to hear the good news, the Gospel of our Lord and Savior!

The Gospel is the power of God to save men that they may turn away from their evil ways to God for direction and guidance.  God saves men by the preaching of the Gospel of salvation.  It is the only WAY that Jesus is going to heal the sin-sick soul that is dying.  The Gospel is the power of God to change the hearts of men so that they can return to Him. The Gospel is given into our hands to teach it to all men that they might be saved from their sins.  Every day people are dying unprepared for eternity!  It is by the preaching of the Gospel that we are going to prepare these people and win souls for God.  God has already provided all the means and the Message to save the souls of men, and we must bring the two together (John 3:16; Romans 1:16).  Can we expect to find favor before God with the blood of the lost on our hands (Acts 20:26-27)?  Is there any other way of hope for a dying world?  What is the condition of the lost without Christ?  Is there any other place where the lost can turn to?  For that reason, we must carry God’s precious Message and guide the erring back to Him.  There are so many lost souls in this world in need of the Gospel to save them.  Look up and see how the fields are already white for harvest!  (John 4:35).  We must lift up our eyes and notice them and approach them the way Jesus wants us to.  The opportunities to teach the lost the Gospel are abundant!  So let us not slip back into our comfort zones, but let us move forward with purpose to seek and find these lost souls.  So we must pray to God to lead us to a lost soul in need of the Gospel!  Let us fill this world with His Gospel!  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!

The Grace of God and the Gospel go hand in hand.  Grace give us the revelation, the Message of God, the Gospel that was preached by the apostles and that was passed on to us.  God's Grace is revealed through the Word which serves as a channel for God's Grace, "11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age."  (Titus 2:11-12).  Thus, the Grace of God that brings salvation is that which teaches us to deny ungodliness so that we may live righteously.  It is the Message of God where Grace is found.  In 2 Timothy 1:8-10, God saved and called us according to His purpose and Grace which is revealed in Christ who brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.  So God's Grace works or functions according to His purpose.  In Acts 11:14 Peter spoke to the Gentiles words by which they were saved (cf. 10:33-48).   In Acts 20:24, 32 we read that the Grace of God is manifested to all men through the instruction or teaching made  possible only through the "Gospel."  Paul's ministry was to testify about the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24, 32).  The apostles ordained by God carried out this commission that began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) where 3,000 souls obeyed the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 2:37-41).  The apostles preached the Gospel not only in Jerusalem but all Judea, Samaria and to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).  All the cases of conversion in the book of Acts show the efficacy of the Gospel.  Today as well, we are saved by the Grace of God when we obey the Gospel.  It is only by the Gospel that we learn how to please God.  Obeying the Gospel of the Grace of God demands that we fulfill the terms of salvation found in the Gospel.

To be saved by faith is to attain the mercy of God by obedience to the Gospel of Grace. All this has been possible through the blood and cruel death of Christ. “We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor. 5:20-21).

Salvation by faith in Jesus is founded on the Word of God (Romans 10:17) that leads the sinner to obey the Gospel of Christ (2 Thess. 1:8). There is no justification without obedience to Christ, which is obedience to His Gospel.
  1. The sinner needs to hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to have faith (Acts 8:35).
  2. The sinner needs to believe in Christ (Acts 16:31-34).
  3. The sinner needs to repent of his sins since Jesus will judge him one day (Acts 17:30-31).
  4. The sinner needs to confess his faith in Jesus (Jesus as Lord), (Acts 8:37; Matt. 10:32).
  5. The sinner needs to obey the Gospel of our Lord and Savior and be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37-38).
  6. The sinner must persevere in the doctrine of Christ, to live a pure, godly life and have an abundant life of good works (Col. 3:16; Eph. 2:10, 4:20-21).

It is through the preaching or teaching of the Gospel that God saves men.  Therefore, we must share the Gospel with the lost. God has commanded us to do so (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; 2 Tim. 4:1-2; 1 Peter 3:15).  We must share the Gospel with the lost, for it is the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16).  We must share the Gospel with the lost, for by doing this we show the lost that we love their souls and don’t want them to be separated from God eternally (Col. 1:28).  We must share the Gospel with the lost because we have compassion for them and don’t want them to perish.  When the Gospel is taught and is believed and obeyed, it is God’s power to save and transform men.  Men like Saul of Tarsus, the worst sinner of our day, and even people like you and me!


CONCLUSION:

We must pray fervently to God that He might send us to those who are diligently seeking Him and want to turn away from the wicked way.  I was one of those souls who was found when I was diligently seeking after God!  I was taught the Gospel by someone who reached out to me.  We must pray for God’s help that we may find these precious souls, for they are desperately waiting for us to teach them the good news!  We must pray to God to use us in whatever way He can to lead us to a lost soul that he might be saved through the Gospel of Christ.  Paul instructed Timothy saying, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”  (2 Tim. 2:2).  That harmonizes with the Great Commission as recorded by Matthew  28:19-20Jesus wants Christians to teach people everywhere about their need to obey the Gospel to become children of God and be saved.  But to teach others the Gospel, we must personally study the Scriptures so that we may teach others (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:15-17).  It is the responsibility of every member of the Lord’s church, for God will judge us on the final day!  The Great Commission begins with the Word, the Gospel.  God never said to wait for the lost to come to you, for He has commanded us to go to them.  There is no need for fear or intimidation, for God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).  When Jesus sent the apostles, He assured them saying, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matt. 28:20).

There is a beloved hymn that’s called, “You Never Mentioned Him to Me,” which is a song that stresses the consequences of not speaking to warn the wicked.  The song should move us to teach the lost!  The words stress our need to get busy in the Lord’s work of sharing the Gospel with the lost, for there is a coming day of judgment when before the bar we will stand.  "The bar" is often-used poetically to refer to judgment, that we must all face (Rom. 14:10).  Of course, this will include God’s people, for we will also be judged for any unforgiven sin we have not repented of.  Our souls will be deeply grieved, for judgment must begin at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17-18).  And though we know that many will be lost, we still have an obligation to teach the Gospel so that no one on that day will be able to say to us, “You never mentioned Him to me,” and then go into the everlasting fire (Matt. 25:41).  We must spread the Gospel, the teachings of Christ, where it may be heard. We must follow the example of the early disciples (Acts 8:4), helping groping souls, the light of the Gospel to see (2 Cor. 4:3-4), that yonder none may say, "You showed me not the way, You never mentioned Him to me."  Therefore, we must help others prepare for judgment so that they will not hear those words, "Depart from me.”  (Matt. 7:21-23).  The Gospel can guide the lost to Christ (Acts 11:14).  The Gospel can turn sad eyes on Calvary where Christ was crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).  In view of the resurrection and final judgment, we must be compelled to abound in the Lord’s work to bring souls to Him (1 Cor. 15:50-58).  Hence, each Christian must mention Christ and what He did to redeem us.  We must labor in sharing the Gospel so that none may say on that final day of judgment, "You Never Mentioned Him to Me."  What will we do, how will we feel, if at the day of judgment some lost soul should cry in deep despair, “You never mentioned Him to me?!”  If on judgment day, we find ourselves having not obeyed the Great Commission, having not tried to teach lost souls the Gospel of salvation, what do you suppose our Lord will say to us?  If you know the lost need to hear and be taught the Gospel, have you mentioned Him to them?

Our Lord Jesus loves all souls, and wants us to share the Gospel with the lost.  He is interested in our souls and the souls of our families as well.  So we must open our eyes and see the harvest! The harvest is plenty, and there is much labor to do!  We must pray to find opportunities to teach the Gospel in a manner that is worthy of Jesus, for we must teach the Truth properly, for that is the only way it can save (John 8:32).  We must realize the importance of soul-winning, the harvesting of souls (John 4:35).  Evangelism must be as much a part of our lives as breathing air!  We must follow the example of our Lord in evangelism, for He understood the concept of soul winning.  How often do we get discouraged about soul winning because we are unable to see the immediate fruits of our labor?  Just because we don’t see immediate success, does not mean that we have been unsuccessful in preparing the soil for someone else to reap the harvest.  To follow the example of Jesus in evangelism is to rejoice when others build on the work we have done by teaching the Gospel of salvation.  Thus we must learn to be longsuffering where we’re not able to see immediate results or harvest.  Likewise, we must crucify self and be selfless, investing the best of our time in the Lord’s work and rejoice when others reap the harvest.  Our work in the Lord is never in vain!  (1 Cor. 15:58).  Therefore, let us apply Jesus’ wonderful principles of evangelism and learn from His example and the example of the greatest soul winners that we might be more successful in our endeavors!

“You Never Mentioned Him to Me”

When in the better land before the bar we stand,
How deeply grieved our souls may (will) be,
If any lost one there should cry in deep despair,
"You never mentioned Him to me."

O let us spread the word where’er it may be heard,
Help groping souls the light to see,
That yonder none may say, ‘You showed me not the way,
"You never mentioned Him to me."

A few sweet words may guide a lost one to His side,
Or turn sad eyes on Calvary;
So work as days go by, that yonder none may cry,
"You never mentioned Him to me."

 The chorus,
"You never mentioned Him to me; You helped me not the light to see."
"You met me day by day and knew I was astray, Yet never mentioned Him to me."


May we understand that the Great Physician is here among us, to heal those who are woefully ill, that our great Shepherd seeks those who are lost and gently restores them to the flock.  And so we should approach those He brings into our path in the same graceful manner as He did with gentleness, humility and a servant's heart.

Luci

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