1 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were
coming near Him to listen to Him. 2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes
began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
3 So He told them this parable, saying, 4 "What man among you, if he has a
hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in
the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 "When
he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 "And when he
comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to
them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' 7 "I
tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one
sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no
repentance. The Lost Coin 8 "Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins
and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search
carefully until she finds it? 9 "When she has found it, she calls together
her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the
coin which I had lost!' 10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in
the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
They came near Him, it says. It
is describing something active from their side, an inner urge that drove
them – they really wanted to be close to Jesus.
Do not read fast through this now, but do stop for what kind of people
the Scripture speaks of here: The tax collectors and the sinners!
They came near unto Jesus, God’s Son! And not necessarily because
it felt good to be near Him, but to listen to Him, it says.
So it was something in what He taught them that caused this. It was His
What did they hear? Yes, it was what springs up in
the passage. People may have studied theology for many years and not
hear what they heard. It was about them He spoke of, and not
as an object for God’s wrath and displeasure, but for God’s grace and
This was completely new to them. They only knew the Pharisees and the
scribe’s godly image, He who hated people like them and in His wrath
were going to judge, if there was not any repentance to a moral change.
Something they did not find a foundation for in themselves.
And this one from heaven sent comes and sits down at their
table, and eats with them!
Is this God? And is this God’s attitude to us? This was
incomprehensible both for them and the Pharisees and the scribes. But
listen to what the Pharisees and the scribes testify about Him – even
though they grumble about it, they still testify truly in this
case: “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”(v.2).
They met Him who could not settle down, as long as
one of them had gone astray. He had to go out to look: “- You
stepped in our wailing down as deep as no one know.”
This was a love which was completely distant in the Pharisees
teachings and last but not least in their heart. This was quite simply
not their God, but as Jesus says in John 8:44 “You are of your father
They therefore preached about God with character from the devil,
and they who gave in to this god/doctrine, received also him as a father,
which means, they became the children of lies as the Scripture
expresses it. And the unpleasant fruit from this doctrine Jesus reveals
when He says to them: “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe
Me.” (John 8:45).
In other words they were not capable to hear the truth that “I have
not come to call the righteous to repentance, but the sinners,”
and this repentance consisted of being turned to God by grace in
Him He sent out.
They grumbled at this. It was not "fair" that these
lousy people would get for nothing, what they had worked for, struggled
and sacrificed to achieve, and still had to carry a dissatisfaction and
nagging unrest in the deep of their heart.
This well hidden bitterness towards God, who exists in every lawful
heart, springs forth in an answer from the son who is living at home to
his dad: “- and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I
might celebrate with my friends.” (Luk.15:29).
Yes, one can speak about being blind, about not knowing your dad:
“'Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is
yours.” (v.31). Just slaughter and eat, if you want!
This godly image came from the wrong teachings of
the law and it leads the Jews into it: “For those who guide this people
are leading them astray; And those who are guided by them are brought to
confusion.” (Is. 9:16).
These were the real lost ones in Israel. Not those who stood there
judged by the law, but those whom everybody considered as saved, because
their salvation road and salvation preaching excluded the grace of the
Not that they did not preach about the grace, but it was not the
grace Jesus spoke of, and therefore not really grace, but an imitation
after the humans thoughts and common sense.
God’s grace is for the lost, and to get a better grip on what it will
say, we add – only for them.
So, try today, if it has anything to do with you.
This God the sinners heard about from Jesus, was
not a God that would consider them, in case, if etc.. but rather one who
longed sincerely after them. As He also says in Luk.22:15: “I
have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
Just like a father longs for his lost son. The One who left His
glory to search in the wilderness. We know something about what it cost
Jesus today! The One who searched with “light and lamp” after them – yes
searches carefully (v.8), and rejoices greatly when he has
found one. And as Jesus so nicely tells us: “there is joy in the
presence of the angels of God!” (v.10).
Can you see this before you? Or do you belong to those ninety nine
who do not need repentance? (v.7b). No, then you cannot imagine this joy
But it is like this for those who are of the truth too, if of other
reasons. One cannot imagine that one can cause any joy in heaven when
one looks at oneself, but that the heaven would rather cry.
Do not look at yourself now, but rather hear like these tax
collectors and sinners in the passage heard. They also heard with
astonishment about the Gospel, but His word operated faith in them. He
gave them trust, and it really says (and it is His enemies that hardly
wanted to say anything good about Him, who has to testify about it): “He
receives the sinners!” They saw that! Do you? And “Jesus Christ
is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb.13:8).
Listen you who struggle so heavily with your
Christian life, because you try to “make it” work – Who is so tired of
all “prayer teachings”, all “methods,” all “discipleship” that will help
you up and going – you are object to a lawful doctrine (false
teaching), lawful spirit, and God has no pleasure in anything
that you do, but teaches you the Gospel about His Son – He who
has completed everything for you.
Listen to what Jesus says about the wander
from the day he found the lost: “When he has found it, he lays
it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” (v.5). “And I will give you rest!”
You will hardly be inactive about this Gospel if
you let it saturate you, but the driving power will become different,
and will only last as long as you have your eyes aimed on this: For
Jesus sake alone – everything!
It is not enough that you have “bible faith,” are
conservative or whatever catches your eye – it is one question
you must get an answer to, so that you can hear it: “Is His grace
enough for you?”
You find God's answer on Golgotha!
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Holy Bible New American standard version
Translator: Benedicte Holtan Smart