Lent Readings: Readings: Joshua 5:9-12, Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
The ‘lost’ stories in Luke 15 Jesus tells to explain his behaviour of eating with sinners are very familiar. Jesus asks his audience if you had 100 sheep and lost one, would you not look for it? Given that most people wouldn’t have owned more than 15 animals, even if you were wealthy you would still look. If you had ten silver coins and lost one, would you not look for it? For a poor person in Jesus’ day, one coin was about 10 days’ wages. Certainly, they would look.
Would you not look? Would you be glad when you found? Would you want to celebrate? As Jesus asks these questions, he expects his audience to respond positively. Then Jesus says this is what God is like with lost people. God looks for lost people. He is glad when they turn back to him. He celebrates when they are found. What Jesus says in Luke 15:7,10 is heartening:
7 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 persons who do not need to repent.
10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Who is ‘rejoicing in the presence of the angels? Who dances, rejoices? The angels? It seems they are watching and participating. Jesus pictures God as the woman who says ‘Rejoice with me…’ It is God who rejoices. This is what God is like with lost people. He seeks them, he turns towards them, he puts out the offer for them to turn towards him.
It fascinates me Jesus tells stories about God to explain his own behaviour. Jesus believes God seeks lost people through him. Jesus thinks how he spends time, who he eats a meal with, how he accepts others, is God seeking lost people. It is wonderful these stories are familiar. They call us to know God as the passionate seeker of lost people. Could this be a fair explanation for our behaviour too? This week, how will God seek lost people through us?