Jesus, Friend of Sinners, II

Based on the book “Friend of Sinners” by Rich Wilkerson Jr.

Part 2 of 4, Lost and Found

We all have a love language, or several.  A way that people can express love to us that really shows us they care, ways that people speak and understand emotional love.  The 5 most well-known ones are, “Words of affirmation, Quality time, Receiving gifts, Acts of service and Physical touch, according the book by Gary Chapman titled, The 5 Love Languages.

Most of us can figure out where we and hopefully where our spouses fall on this list.  However, this is not an all-inclusive list, I’m sure we could come up with a thing or two that speak love to us that aren’t on the list above.  I bet we can think of our kids or our grand kids or even siblings and figure out where they would fall on the spectrum or if they have some other love languages that speak to them.

I would like to submit to you that Jesus has a love language as well.  There is one specific way we can express love to Jesus that really allows Him to feel our love for Him.  Jesus’ love language is people.  It’s when we love what He loves, that our love is most clearly shown to Him.  Jesus loves people, all people, so if we love Jesus, we will love what He loves and that is people.  In John 21 Jesus made a third post resurrection appearance to the disciples.  They were on the Sea of Galilee on a fishing outing.  The Bible says they were out all-night fishing.  Jesus appeared to them on the shore, but they didn’t know it was Him at first, and told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, because of course that’s where all the fish were.  After the disciples hauled up all the fish they could handle in one net load, they realized it was Jesus.  Peter jumped off the boat and swam to shore to be the first one to welcome Jesus.

In John 21:15 Jesus has some pointed and uncomfortable questions for Peter.

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John (Jonah), do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.” “Feed my lambs,” he told him.  A second time he asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “you know that I love you.”  “Shepherd my sheep,” he told him.  He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was grieved that he asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.”  “Feed my sheep,” Jesus said.

I heard this passage taught at Moody by a pastor and he said he isn’t exactly sure what this whole exchange was about, whether it’s a restoration of Peter after the denials, or if its Jesus asking Peter if he still wants to be the “Rock” or if it’s a question about Peters heart and intentions moving forward, but he said, it’s something deep being discussed here.  One thing we can see clearly is that Jesus’ heart is for the sheep, the flock, for people and He is looking for a Shepard who is willing to take over for Him after the ascension, to love His people, to be Jesus to lost people.

  1. Especially the Lost

Quite often people will judge our actions but never see our hearts. And it can be very frustrating. This happened to Jesus almost daily.  People would accuse Jesus, criticize Him, attack Him because of the people He associated with or the places He would go to find them.  On many occasions Jesus would remain silent and this is usually the best way to handle it for us.  But there were also instances where He would explain His actions and these explanations give us some amazing insight to Jesus’ heart, mind and motivation for finding people.  Why would Jesus spend so much or all, of His limited time on earth seeking sinners?  It’s because He’s obsessed with lost things.  Jesus wants to find what has been lost.

When I realized this, it was like milk and honey to my soul.  I’m also obsessed with lost things.  It’s a joke at our house that if something is lost, tell Dad and he won’t stop till he finds it.  This began for me as a kid.  I would play baseball by myself in the back yard.  Behind our yard was a swampy marsh area with over grown weeds, poison sumac, deep muck, snakes, you name it, it might as well have been Jumanji to me as a kid.  But I would often end up hitting the baseball into the marsh and have to go find it.  I would search and search until I found it.  This became an obsession to me.  If I didn’t find the ball, it was game over, I had to find that ball, I didn’t have one to replace it.  This grew into lots of other areas, I couldn’t knowingly lose something.  It’s more than just wanting to locate something, I can’t rest until its found.  My mind won’t allow me to stop knowing something is lost.  This is how Jesus feels about people.  He can’t accept them being lost, they must be found.

In Luke 15 the Bible gives us a look at these two aspects, how Jesus would respond to be judged by His actions and how He feels about lost things.

The book of Luke is written in chronological order, not all the Gospels are, so we know that we can read the book of Luke as a running account, almost like a story that is unfolding in front of us. Luke himself says in chapter 1, verse 3, that he has tasked himself with writing an “orderly sequence” narrative of the events that have been taught regarding Jesus Christ.

In Luke 14:25 as Jesus was teaching about the cost of being a disciple, the Bible says great crowds were traveling with Him.  The crowd was both sinners and religious leaders.  The religious leaders were the ones complaining the loudest.  “If Jesus is holy and is who He says He is, He should be an example.  If some people even claim He is the Messiah how can He hanging out with the unclean, the sinners.  He should be a judge of sinners, a condemner of sinners, not a friend to them.  We don’t get it, you can’t be holy and righteous and do the things you’re doing with the people you’re doing them with.”

On the other hand, there were the sinners.  They probably didn’t get it either.   I can imagine them saying, “no one has ever told us about a God like this, no one has ever shown us a love like this.  This man seems to be perfect, yet He is our friend?  We don’t deserve it, and we don’t understand it.  Could God really love us that much?

So, to answer both groups Jesus told 3 parables.

2) The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Luke 15:1-7

All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  So, he told them this “What man among you, who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open field, or the wilderness and go after the lost one until he finds it?  When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’  I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.

This story speaks to Jesus’ unwillingness to allow something, or someone to be lost.  Many in our world today may not really relate to this parable.  Jesus says, What man among you, who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine and go after the one until he finds it….uh, most men actually.  Especially in 2018 in America.  Sometimes its hard for us to see in our culture how important the “one” really is.  We live in a throw away culture that would just as soon replace something as find the old one if its lost.  We do this in lots of areas, with stuff, but we sometimes also do this with relationships.  Many businesses have the operational mindset of “no one is irreplaceable.”  In sports, if someone gets injured, its “next man up.”  We only keep our presidents for a max of 8 years, even the really good ones who are actually doing a great job.  If someone retires we have a cake for them and then try to take their job, desk or at least their stapler.  But Jesus doesn’t see people like that.  Everyone is irreplaceable, there is no next man up, and you don’t get to, or have to, retire from Jesus.  He never plans to lose you or replace you.  When we belong to Jesus, we’re His forever.  Its like the baseball I didn’t want to lose as kid, Jesus doesn’t have a replacement for you.  In fact, the passage says, search until he finds it, leading us to believe, however long that takes, He keeps looking.

Jesus will leave the ninety-nine every time to find the one.  After all, He’s still explaining why He welcomes sinners and eats with them, it’s because He found one!  Jesus found what He had been looking for.  He loves to fellowship with and embrace the one who was found.  The meal together is like carrying a sheep home on His shoulders in the parable.  There is a closeness, a relationship, it’s a love thing.  Jesus is excited to have the lost one back, it’s His love language, it’s why He’s came to earth, its what the Savior does, He saves.  Jesus says to “rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep.”  He wants us to be as excited as He is when a lost one is found.  And, He wants us to be out looking as well.

We have to shift our priorities.  Being the best, being well known, being right or loved by the world are all the wrong priorities.  If we love Jesus we have to speak His love language back to Him, we have to love His people, that has to be our #1 priority.  There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents that over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.