Friday SOAP: When I come across a line of Scripture that has inspired a gospel song, I often spend the rest of the day with the song echoing through my head, even if I last heard it thirty years ago. Today's reading reminds me of a precious one, written to reassure us and inspire us to "make the message clear and plain" that "Christ receiveth sinful men, even me, with all my sin."
S: And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. (Luke 15:2)
O: Here's an interesting contrast. Only a few chapters ago, Jesus warned about those who had once been faithful stewards, but decided in their hearts, "my Lord delays His coming" and began to beat their fellow servants and eat and be drunk (the Matthew version says) with the drunken. The implication of the scribes and Pharisees was that Jesus Himself was fellowshipping in this comfortable sort of way with those devoted to sin. (See Matthew 11:16-19)
A: Jesus' three parables were simultaneously moving pictures of the Father's heart in seeking and yearning for that which was lost (Luke 19:10) and an indictment of the murmuring of the religious leaders. It's fitting for true friends to rejoice over the restoration of sinners (Luke 15:6, 9, 32), recognizing the accuracy of this potrayal of God's posture towards them (Ezekiel 33:11) and the hypocrisy and jealousy of those who murmur. (Luke 15:28-30)
P: Lord Jesus, thank you for your perfect example for us to follow. You did not associate with those called believers who were known to be hypocritical, but to the sinners of this world, you made a winsome appeal. You have left us here in the world for the same purpose: to declare that the barrier has been removed and the way to reconciliation is open by the blood of your cross.