Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Old Friends

Luke 15:1  Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2  And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them." 3  So he told them this parable: 4  "Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5  When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' 7  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Eugene Petersen  suggests that the first few verses of this passage could read as follows[1]: ‘The religious people were not at all pleased that Jesus was treating men and women of doubtful reputation as old friends.’  This is the key to the nature of Jesus. Unlike most of us, he does not treat people as “suspect until proven otherwise”. He welcomes anyone!

This does not mean that Jesus is blind to the faults of other people. It just means that he is willing to welcome people – faults and all. While this offers me the possibility of friendship with Jesus, it also challenges me when I begin to think that there might be some who Jesus might not welcome. The essence of being truly Christian is the capacity to offer love and friendship indiscriminately.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see
John Newton (1725-1807)

The Eighth Sunday after Epiphany
Protected by God
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 95.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.    

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