When we lose or misplace something, we trace our steps, we ask other people, and we ponder where we have been and where it could be. We don’t give up until we find it, whatever it is. The more valuable the thing is to us, the harder and longer we try to recover it. If and when we do, we celebrate, it is a huge relief. Everyone is this way.
Jesus was saying the same to the crowd gathered to hear Him. The crowd was a mix of the religious leaders, the hated tax collectors, and the despised “lowlife sinners”. The Pharisees and scribes were grumbling that Jesus would keep company with “lesser” people.
What they failed to realize is that compared to Jesus, we are all lowlife’s. The people who can really get something from Jesus’ teaching are the ones who know they are lost and need help finding the way, not those who think they are already walking right along in the first place. Yes we advance in the faith, but we never advance beyond repentance. Jesus wants people to remember where they came from, that all need rescuing.
Jesus’ short story tells us about the Father’s love for the lost, but it also tells us what our attitude toward the lost should be as well. We need to be confident in what God’s grace can do for any person; especially those who we think are “lost causes”. Jesus specializes in them, and truthfully, that’s all of us (Isaiah 53:6). After we have received Christ as our Savior, a mark of our walk is that we become humbly grateful not grumbly hateful.
When people find the way of hope in God through the knowledge of Jesus, we should rejoice. That’s what heaven does, and that’s where we are going. In fact, that’s also a good test to see if you are really going there.