Luke 15:1-2 Jesus and the Unsaved – Updated!

23 Aug

“Then drew near unto him (Jesus) all the publicans and sinners to listen to the words of Yahweh.  And the pharisees and scribes (or religious teachers) murmured, saying, “This man loves (or receives)  sinners and eats with them.”  Luke 15:1-2  (A Mixed Translation)

In these our modern times, not much has changed in the two thousand years its been since Jesus (or Yahweh – as that is his rightful name) lived among us.  I have been in many churches that (as unbelievable as it is) wants absolutely nothing to do with sinners – or those outside the church.  “Oh, they might mess up the carpet, or steal our sound equipment.”  What terrible fools and betrayers of God’s holy words!  Jesus himself said “love your enemies, pray for them which despitefully use you and yes even persecute you.  I am in no way implying that we should allow an obvious threat to be among our children – but in this day and age (and especially in America) Christians value their love for entertainment, safety and pleasure more than they do the things of God!

Going back to the scripture at hand: Jesus hates the sin of self righteousness above all others, because Christians already have God’s approval and blessings and are commanded to love who are in our estimation – unlovable.  The greatest sin for a true born again believer is the sin of pride and of selfishness – as we have so much to be grateful for!  Those of us who live in a free and prosperous nation do not have to worry much about where our next meal is coming from, or where we will get the money to pay items such as basic health care.  Jesus condemned (better yet damned -a very strong word – see note 1) the hypocrites of his day time and time again with a holy and violent passion.  His whole life was that of reaching out to the undeserving and the less fortunate!  He hated the fact that those that knew the Torah (or Old Testament) the most chose to keep what they thought believed was the “divine word” all to themselves.  Thus, when Jesus (the Living Word) walked among them, they were afraid.  Jesus himself said in so many words that he came “not to win the self righteous (those who in their own estimation deserved the blessings of the one true God) but those that knew in their heart that they needed and were drawn to gentle and loving Savior.”

What an awful place it will be on the judgement day when those who once enjoyed the blessings of our Christ are exposed as false teachers and haters of his most beloved creation – people.  What wailing and weeping there will be for those that throughout their whole life chose to harshly and coldly condemn all of mankind (especially blatant sinners), rather that trying to extend themselves to help save.

Listen to what Rambam’s Mishneh-Torah (a Jewish Commentary written in 1178 by Moses Maimonides – a great Jewish philosopher and lover of the Torah) has to say about sinners who repent.  This is in direct relation to our wonderful passage in Luke 15.  Rambam’s Mishneh reads [concerning Jews who wish to repent] “Let not the Jew who repents/returns to [Orthodox] Judaism suppose that because of the iniquities and sins that he has committed he is kept at a distance from the level attained by righteous men.  It isn’t so.  He is loved as tenderly by the Creator as if he had never sinned.  Not only that, his reward is great, since he experienced the taste of sin and nevertheless rid himself of it by conquering his yetzer (or evil impulse).  The sages (or wise men) said, ‘Where the ba ‘al-t’ shuvah (or Jew who repents) stands, the completely righteous man cannot stand’ (B’ rakhot 34b).  That is, the level attained by the ba ‘al-t’ shuvah [Jew who repents] is higher than that of someone who never sinned at all, because the former had to strive harder to subdue the yetzer than the latter.”

I love this commentary because it embraces what we as Christians know to be true and what Jesus Christ himself said earlier in Luke 7:47: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much.  But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.” (NIV)  This Jesus spoke of the former prostitute Mary Magdalene, of which he entirely forgave.

Summary:  What a terrible day it will be for hypocritical, self righteous Christians who refused to lend a hand to those who are in need and who knew God’s word and thoughts on topics such as love and forgiveness when they stand before the judgment seat of Christ!  Jesus paved the way for us by setting a wonderful example as recorded in Luke 15 by gladly welcoming sinners and even eating with them.  How often do you as a Christian make a habit of eating a meal with a complete stranger, who you know is not on the right pathway to eternal salvation?  In this day an age, many people outside the church relish in body art (tattoos), radical haircuts and body piercings.  I myself to this day wear my hair different than anyone else I know in the church because to me it is not a sin.  In fact, it is an evangelistic effort!  This particular style of hair (a short, but readily identifiable mohawk) allows me easier access to those who are offended by typical western holy dress: -namely the three piece suit and ever so perfectly tied tie.  Though the outward dress may offend you, we must be ever so loving toward people as Jesus so desperately wants our generation to know that they are loved -regardless of what they look like or no matter how many bad things they have done.  He hung on a cross between two thieves, after being brutally beaten just to show his love for all of mankind.  He was numbered with the transgressors and chose to touch during his earthly ministry the unlovely, the tax collector and the transgressor.  God help us as Christians to be ever so careful with those whom the Lord allows us to come in contact with!  You might never know when you might see Jesus staring right back at you smiling as you reach out to touch someone else in order to ease their pain.  I try to find Christ in everyone I meet – regardless of their outward appearance or social status.  Don’t even get me started on race!

John

Notes:

1.  (coming soon)

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