Father, break our hearts with the things that break Your heart. We worship You and yearn to treasure Your affections for us and for everyone You gave Your Son for. Truly, You are moved with compassion and are deeply stirred to reach every single person with Your love and shatter the works of the enemy in each life.
Lord, we cry out to experience what You feel, what You go through over those that do not know You. We love You God, we really do, and want to fill Heaven with souls and fill the souls on this earth with the reality of Heaven. Tenderize our hearts in Jesus name so we can fellowship with You, release Your presence at this moment and draw near to us. Let Your tears become ours, we pray.
Years ago I heard the story of a Christian who visited a leper colony inIndia. It was not the final place for those with the disease. As the disease intensified in the lepers, they would board a train to go to another place where they would live until they died.
This Christian minister made his way through the camp and spoke with different ones who were suffering. As his time there was coming to an end, he stopped by a leper and after speaking a bit to him, he said, “Jesus loves you” and then turned around to leave. He was startled by a voice as he was walking away. It was the voice of God speaking to him. “GO BACK AND LOVE THAT MAN!” The tone of God’s voice made him realize that he had not really shown the love of God at all but just said the words without any depth of feeling or reality. The minister was smitten and went back to the man.
He looked at him and said, “I really did not express what I wanted to say to you” and picked the man up and drew him to his bosom. “What I wanted to say, was that Jesus REALLY loves you” and he began to tell him how valuable he was and how much God loved him and many other words as he embraced the man with all of his heart. As he did so, the blood and the pus of the man’s sores ran down his white garments which were now stained with blood and pus from the suffering man. He wept over him and loved him and when it was all over, he gently placed him on the ground and walked away with tears still streaming down his face as he left the colony.
It was months later, as he was sitting in his office, that his secretary knocked on the door and said that there was a handsome Indian man wanting to see him. “Do I know him?“, the minister asked. The secretary said that the man said he knew him and came by to visit him. So the man was ushered in to see this minister. “Do I know you?“, the minister asked. “I do not recall having met you“. The Indian man replied, “Yes, we have met before. I was the man in the leper colony that you visited and picked up that day. You told me how valuable I was and how much Jesus Christ loved me. When I went on the train I cried out and said I wanted to know this Jesus this man who held me in his arms told me about. Then and there God revealed Himself to me and Jesus Christ became real and I became His. I was supernaturally healed of my leprosy and my entire body was miraculously restored and made whole. I am on my way to study for the ministry and I came by to thank you“.
The minister sat in stunned silence, overwhelmed by what he had heard. God cries out to all those who have become righteous through faith in Jesus Christ, “Stain your righteous garments with pus!!”
In Luke 15:2 we read a remarkable verse:
“And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, this man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them“
Jesus then goes on to share a parable of a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son, the parable of lost things. In this parable He reveals the heart of God whom the Pharisees and scribes did not know. The Pharisees represent the religious leaders and those who represent God while the scribes are those who were responsible for the Scriptures that tell about God.
They “murmured“. The Greek word means to grumble, to complain, to mutter in disgust. What was Jesus doing that caused such a reaction among the religious ones, those that supposedly knew and represented God to this world?
He was receiving and eating with sinners. Sinners were those that were sinful, moral failures, violators of God’s will or law and in some contexts those that do not keep orthodox traditions and behaviors. They were like the leper, full of blood and pus, while the Pharisees were like one who had the white garment and the flippant ‘God loves you’. But without any proximity of the heart that would cause their life to be troubled in any way by the defilement or association with the impure or sinful lost of this world.
The word “receiveth“ is rich in meaning. It means to receive, to accept, to welcome. The thought is to bring to oneself, not shun in any way, not avoid, not turn away from, but have a heart that creates an atmosphere of welcoming. The word also means to wait for, to anticipate, to be looking for. It is from two Greek words, “towards” and “receiving“. Leaning towards is the idea, moving towards and also bringing to yourself is implied in this word.
In other words, the Pharisees and scribes were offended by Jesus receiving sinners unto Himself. Not only that, he was eating with them. This Greek word is more than just eating food with someone, it speaks of fellowshipping and associating with those you are eating with, which in many cultures what sharing a meal is all about. It is being in the company of someone you want to be with. Obviously, the Pharisees and scribes thought that religious people should be spending their time with each other and avoiding close proximity or heartfelt discourse around a meal with “sinners”.
The Response of Jesus
Jesus sees this muttering and complaining rape of the heart of God and begins to deliver the parable of lost things. In this parable we see the bent of God that should be directing our lives as well. A shepherd with one sheep missing out of a hundred, a woman with one coin missing out of 10 and a father with one son missing out of 2. The entire emphasis is to find the sheep, the coin and the son and once found, there is “joy in heaven” and the cry to everyone around which came from the lips of the shepherd, the woman and the father, “REJOICE WITH ME“!! What was lost was found.
If you were looking at 100 sheep, would you be able to look at another flock of 99 and know the difference? Of course not. You see a cluster of that many sheep and would be aware of the entire flock together. Yet Jesus was aware of the ONE that should have been there and was not. Not only that, he expects that sheep to be searched for until it is found. The emphasis was on the one and shepherds “leave” the 99 to find the one. It doesn’t mean to not care about the 99. It simply means we are to do all we can to find the ONE.
In Ezekiel 34:4, God reveals His expectations of shepherds, pastors, spiritual leaders. They are to strengthen the diseased, heal the sick, bind up the broken and ALSO bring again that which was driven away and seek that which was lost. This is the assignment of every believer, the mindset of Jesus Christ who “went about doing good and healing the oppressed” (Acts 10:38). It is the normal Christian lifestyle. You are gripped by the heart of God that is stretching and yearning to draw men to Himself. Jesus found fishers of men not keepers of the aquarium.
The heart of the true shepherd is always aware of those in the flock that are diseased, broken, weak, sick and whatever has been lost physically, emotionally, spiritually is to be restored to wholeness. It is all about people. There should always be the awareness of who is not there being cared for. The structure of ministry ought to originate from the heart and focus on creating a culture of Kingdom minded people who are laying down their lives for one another and know that each one is his “brother’s keeper“. We must bring back what has been driven away whatever the cause and live in the celebration of, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost“. Every struggling backslider, lost sinner and erring brother is to be yearned for and searched for as a daily breathing out of the Great Shepherd wanting all to be safe and secure in the flock of heaven.
One day, as we were staying at the home of a Marquesan woman inTahiti, Jana found a beautiful pearl on the bathroom floor. We thought it must have belonged to Titinaei or perhaps her daughter. Titinaei had never seen it before and did not know how it got there. She gave it to Jana. That evening I joined some others going about inPapeetedoing good and healing the oppressed. At one point we met a man on a mat in the marketplace. He was very resistant to the Gospel and did not show any sign of openness or receptivity. Somehow I could not get away from him and I did not know why. As we kept talking I happened to ask him where he was from and then what kind of living he did. He had come from theTuamotuIslandsand he worked in the pearl farms. It was then that I realized why the pearl was found in the bathroom. I began to talk about the pearl, whose value he knew full well and then our discussion turned to Jesus Christ, the pearl of great price and then to the man himself as a pearl, a person of great value and worth to God. It was not long before his hand was in mine and he gave his heart to the Lord. This man was so valuable and costly to the heart of God that somehow that very day, a pearl had been found in a bathroom in order to convey a message which was to open up a heart. That man had indeed found the “pearl of great price” as he was found by the Lord.
Going back to Luke 15, the woman represents the church and every human being is a coin, with purchasing power through his or her life for the King of Kings. All the talents, abilities, destinies, callings and anointings inherent to every soul belongs to God and must be found. The Church lives in order to find that which has been lost and robbed from God so it can be spent as it was meant to be. Yes, we are thankful for the coins already found and we must also identify and release that which has been damaged and lost in the destiny of each one. We are called to passionately receive and embrace those that do not know him and through our lives speak into the destiny of each one and bring it back to and for God.
The real party starts in heaven in the presence of angels over lost souls being found and lost destinies being recovered. We experience the heavenly here on earth as we co-labor with the man who receiveth sinners and eats with them, living life with a clear purpose of welcoming into our affections the human beings we are in contact with everywhere. his man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
He is the friend of sinners. He remained undefiled while embracing the human race. He was the gaze of the Father scanning the horizon for the first inclinations of a son who was no longer in the house of His Daddy and wasting away his inheritance. He was ever looking for the first rays of the dawn in the heart of a lost son saying “I will arise and go to my father“. Deep within the soul every human being has the cry like that of a pastor I met recently in a restaurant, “Where is my father“? Suddenly the cry broke forth because that is really what all of us, saved and lost need, our Daddy, not the earthly one, but our heavenly Father. We need to be in His arms and feel His smile, and rest in His unconditional love.
There is no joy like the joy of Father God who hears the “I will arise” and running across the years of estrangement He comes until He falls on the son’s neck and weeps with amazement that he is in His arms again. “Let’s party, let’s celebrate this son of mine who is back in my arms.” Yes, Jesus is talking about a backslidden or unsaved one and they are everywhere, lost and heavenly homeless. But many of those who are born again need to be restored to the “Abba“, the papa, daddy God and become a child to enter into heavenly reality now and experience the smile of daddy God every day.
God’s heart was not beating in the Pharisees and the scribes and they could not understand Jesus, the one who genuinely enjoyed being in the company of sinners. Isn’t that where He was supposed to be, so He could bring His world to them and welcome them to the realm of His Father through the gospel of the Kingdom? Is God’s heart beating in us today? Did we wake up ready to be the embrace of God to those in our sphere of influence? Anticipating the “I will arise” in some man, woman or child? Finding the destiny in someone’s life?
Years ago, a brother and I were tired after spending a day ministering in Seattle. We saw a hitchhiker and to be honest, we just weren’t in the mood to pick him up. We did, and an hour or so later he repented of his sins and gave his life to Jesus Christ. The next day I spoke with him and he had decided to go to Oregonand be a Christian disc jockey. I gave him my address and kept in touch. Over the years, we touched base a couple of times and one day I happened to be in the area where he was then residing. He invited me over to his house and I decided to go. When I got there I knocked on the front door and when it opened there was the man with his wife and 3 lovely girls. They were all staring at me and the man said, “This is the man who led me to Jesus Christ“. The girls ran into my arms and I was stunned and overwhelmed. The brother and his wife just grinned at me.
During dinner that night he told me all that happened since we met and it was remarkable. Then he told me the story of how God led his family to give up their Christmas and go to minister on Christmas day in the Middle Eastin a town on the Israeli border. They went through seven checkpoints and, to make a long story short, they ended up sharing the gospel to the inhabitants of the whole town and all of them responded to the message of salvation. At first he was not sure if they heard him right, so he preached again and really explained the cost of following Jesus and again they all wanted to respond. Still not convinced, he preached one more time and made the claims of discipleship strong and clear, “You must be willing to be martyred if need be to follow Jesus“.
Again, they all responded and were saved, many filled with the Holy Spirit and blessed with the Christmas gifts.
Shortly after, there was a bloodbath in that town and many were killed, something that never was the news here in America. This incident took place over 25 years ago. One man, a lost son, now a sheep that was found and a coin that was spent and “it was meet that we should make merry“. Blessed be the day we were called to walk in the love of the Lord, seeking and finding that which was lost.