“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10 ESV)
Jesus preached two parables about the love of God for sinners and lost souls while in an assembly composed of 2 different groups. One group was composed of the religious elite, the Jewish religious leaders and their followers. The other group was composed of the sinners the first group shunned and condemned. The first group felt that Jesus was condoning sin by associating with such people. Such affiliations made Him unclean. These Pharisees and scribes were religious fundamentalists but they also had a deep need for love and forgiveness yet werev too proud to admit it. They sought to satisfy their need in outward displays of piety and adherence to rituals and rules. Their outward behavior set up a boundary marker that separated them from lowly sinners.
The hearts of the Pharisees were far from God. They obeyed the law to make God accept them or make themselves feel superior. They had no love in their hearts for God, their fellow Jews, and certainly not for the unclean Gentiles or these sinners. People came to them seeking God’s love and mercy and found only bondage to rules or rejection. Such loveless legalism is condemned throughout the Bible. In fact, it is the one sin that Jesus rebuked more than any other.
The sinners of Jesus day correspond to the prostitutes, drug dealers, homosexuals, and other sinners of our own day, those that many Christians shun and condemn. But they are people with a great need for love and forgiveness even though they seek to satisfy their need in perversions that never bring lasting comfort. Jesus took the time to associate with such people, to understand them and their needs. Although He never condoned sin, He almost always extended mercy, love, and forgiveness toward these sinners, to lead them to repentance. So should we love those we find unlovely, because such were some of us.