Main readings: Jeremiah 4.11-12, 22-28; Psalm 14; 1 Timothy 1.1-2, 12-19a; Luke 15.1-10 (Exodus 32.7-14; Psalm 51.1-10)
Supplementary readings: Psalm 122; Luke 19.28-48; Jeremiah 19.1-2, 10-15; Psalm 51.10-19; Colossians 3.12-21
“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.” (Luke 15.7)
When I was small, I would often be distracted by what others were doing around me, often with unpleasant consequences. Looking up at construction workers from the footpath or focusing too much on what my friends were up to in the sandpit, my distraction sometimes cost me a grazed knee or an unfinished activity. My mum used to regularly say to me, “Don’t worry about them, just focus on what you are doing.” Now as an adult I find myself applying this advice when I get a bit lost worrying over other people’s business.
In this passage from Luke we see how lost the scribes are through their judgmental comments about ‘sinners’. There is great irony to this, as their fixation on others’ faults and foibles, prevented them from seeing that God was telling them the parable, having become incarnate with the very purpose to find the lost.
When we stray from our relationship with God, like sheep who have wandered off, God searches after us, longing to find and save us. Although it is important to stick with the flock, sometimes looking at what other sheep are doing can cost us the rescue we think we don’t need. I wonder how often we might miss God walking in our midst, coming to find us, because we are swept up in the ever-present human tendency to get distracted by what others are up to.
Wouldn’t it be miraculous if we could be ready to spot Jesus as he comes to claim us, and truly celebrate the joy-filled salvation God promises to us all?