"Sinners were all gathering around to hear [Jesus]." —Luke 15:1
Sinners were attracted to Jesus. They wanted to be around Him and hear His words. They wanted Jesus to eat in their homes (see Lk 19:7). They even gathered other fellow sinners and brought them along to hear Jesus (see Mt 9:9-10). Sinners must have been attuned to the obvious love Jesus had for them. Jesus proved that love is a powerful magnet to draw sinners.
Jesus is not soft on sin; He endured the agony of crucifixion in order to destroy sin. However, Jesus is softhearted for sinners. Jesus wants to avoid sin (see Jn 8:11), but He definitely does not avoid sinners. He came to save sinners (1 Tm 1:15; Jn 3:16-17). He came to seek out sinners (Lk 15:4, 8; 19:10). Jesus loved sinners so much that He, in a sense, became sin so that we sinners "might become the very holiness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).
Most people who read this book are not identified as sinners but as Christians, that is, followers of Jesus. We can't imitate Jesus without having His heart for sinners. Jesus will lose everything, even His life, for them. To follow Him, we must deal with sinners as Jesus does. We must plunge recklessly into "the wasteland" of desolation (Lk 15:4) and leave ninety-nine good Christian friends behind to rescue a sinner (Lk 15:4). We must be willing to risk our good reputation, as Jesus did, to bring God's love and word to a sinner (Lk 15:2; 19:7). Jesus' heart of love impelled Him to lovingly "search out" sinners and lead them to conversion (Lk 19:10). We must "go and do the same" (Lk 10:37).
Prayer: Father, by my wholehearted repentance, may I bring joy to Your heart (Lk 15:7). May I lead many others to You.
Promise: "I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ." —Phil 3:8
Praise: Stephan has served as a volunteer for a prison ministry for several decades.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 1, 2008
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