Then drew near unto him all the tax collectors and sinners to hear him.
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receives
sinners, and eats with them. And he spoke this parable unto them,
saying, What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one
of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go
after that which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it,
he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice
with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you,
that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more
than over ninety and nine just persons, who need no repentance.
As we look at this passage of Scripture, we need to ask ourselves four questions if we want to be true Jesus-followers.
1. Am I speaking words of life to those around me? Notice that these tax collectors and sinners all came to LISTEN to Jesus.
He was speaking something they needed to hear. Likewise, we are surrounded by lost sinners who desperately need to hear the words of life
from those of us that know Jesus as our Savior. We need to be speaking the words of life to them, because if we do not, who will? How will they ever be saved?
Romans 10:13-14 tells us:
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
and how shall they hear without a preacher?
2. Am I friendly, or am I a friend? There is a big difference! Jesus was not merely friendly to these lost people, He was a friend to them. He sat down and ate with them.
He accepted them as they were, even in their sinful state. He didn't just give them a smile and a handshake, He sat down right next to them and got involved with them.
Can we do the same? Matthew 5:46-47 tells us:
For if you love them who love you, what reward have you? do not even
the tax collectors the same? And if you greet your brethren only,
what do you more than others? do not even the tax collectors so?
3. Am I more concerned with who is here than who is missing? Am I willing to leave the crowd of "regulars" to seek out that one who is lost, who is not part of my group?
Jesus left the ninety-nine to seek and find that one lost sheep. That one percent difference is the heart of God: He isn't willing to settle for "I've got 99%, that's good enough".
He's not as concerned for all the members to be in Sunday morning service as much as seeking out those who are not!
Jesus instructed His followers in Mark 16:15:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the
world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Notice, they were instructed to go out; we can't just sit in church and hope that sinners will somehow find their way in. We have to go out into the world around us,
and preach the gospel to everyone. Not just the ones we think may want to hear it, or the ones we think NEED to hear it, but everyone!
4. Am I seeking to please the Father, or myself? What gives the Father pleasure? Verse 7 tells us: God rejoices more over the one lost sheep that repents than over the 99 who do not need to, becuase they already have!
Verse 10 tells us:
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence
of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
Joy in the presence of the angels - this is not the angels rejoicing, but One who is in the presence of the angels. This is our Father God himself, rejoicing when a lost sinner repents.
It is very clear that if we truly want to please God, we need to speak words of life to lost sinners, that they would repent and be saved! It is of such importance to God that Christ's very last words to His followers contained this command:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am
with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.