“Associating With Sinners: Lost Sheep”
By Zach Wood
Luke 15:1-2 NLT
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
One of the things I most admire about Jesus was His ability to associate with the people who would be considered lowest on the totem pole. Jesus was never into a popularity contest. He did not spend time with people who only looked a certain way, smelled a certain way or dressed a certain way.
Much of His mission was to associate with people who were close to hitting rock bottom or were already there. I guess you could say he attracted people who were living in sin.
The religious leaders did not like and could not believe that Jesus would do such a thing as to associate with the lowliest people. Here was perfect Jesus associating with others that most would not associate with. That is just how Jesus was. He reached to people and places where most of us would never go. He does not have barriers. He does not have a checklist of things that keep Him away from others. His love was real, genuine and reached out to those who needed Him most.
I have to wonder about us today. How many of us have a “checklist” of those we only associate with? Who do we only allow ourselves to associate with? We all have favorites and we choose to pay attention to those we choose to be around. We do not like being around people who make us feel uneasy and uncomfortable. And, we certainly do not like being around people who are completely different from us. We often disagree and find it challenging to find common ground.
Jesus did not let barriers like this stop Him from reaching out. He reached out to people we would avoid. He touched people we stay far away from. He had compassion on people that we would probably judge. He reached out and He loved. He associated with sinners and He loved lost sheep.
The next few verses talk about how Jesus goes after lost sheep because they matter. He would leave the 99 to find the 1 because that 1 totally matters.
I find it absolutely amazing that people who were lost and in sin were attracted to Jesus. They were amazed that He took time to reach out to them.
Do we associate with sinners? Jesus associates with us, and we are sinners. He calls us to associate with others without barriers. That is challenging and tough, but that is our mission.