Lucia's Blog: HOW DID JESUS TREAT SINNERS?
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, March 23, 2020

HOW DID JESUS TREAT SINNERS?

“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 9:12-13


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.

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.  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.

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! 

Do you forget 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 SINNERS 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, 15)  Let us never forget that we were like sheep that had gone astray (Isaiah 53:6) but who now have repented and turned back to our Lord.  So 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 goodness.  It 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, 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 celebrate.  So 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 compassion.  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!


CONCLUSION:

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.

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!

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.

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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