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Everyone is welcomed when found

Luke 15:1-10 – Focus on Verses 1 to 3

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering round to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.’

Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.

‘Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

Cross,Jesus,God,Holy Spirit,Daily Devotion,Welcoming

We kick off this passage with the familiar scene of the Pharisees being unhappy with how Jesus conducted His ministry.

It’s easy, from our position, to pour scorn on the Pharisees. Eating with someone is normally a sign of intimacy and acceptance. For the Pharisees to be annoyed that Jesus wants to spend time with people on the margins of society is understandable but, alas, not excusable.

I wonder if we are any different. Do we grumble when we see someone across the morning tea table at church that doesn’t dress like us, or comes from a different life situation to us? If a well-known Christian author or preacher were to turn up at our church next Sunday, who would we want them to spend time with, in our church?

Let me take you back to Luke 5.31, where Jesus was asked why he ate with tax collectors and sinners. The answer given was ‘those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.’ Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance.

When you are next tempted to grumble in ministry, can I encourage you please to rejoice. Be thankful that our great shepherd found us when we were lost and, because we were too weak to return on our own, laid us on His shoulders and brought us into right relationship with Him.

Head: Are you tempted to think that church is only for people like you?

Heart: The next time you catch yourself grumbling at church (or in a ministry context), pause and try to thank God instead for His many blessings

Hands: The next time you’re at a church service, try making a new friend. Let’s be honest and vulnerable together about our need for a shepherd.

Prayer: Lord, thank you that you welcome us in our sin and love us, even though we are often difficult to love. We are sorry that we are not as good at welcoming or encouraging to others as we could be. In your mercy, please strengthen us to be more hospitable and gracious to others – especially when we don’t feel like it.

A song to listen to: Isaiah 53.6

Oliver Meehan

Living Church Creek Road

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