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Jesus Is Love and a Friend to Sinners

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Jesus, Friend of Sinners.

Luke 15

Luke 15: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Lost Son

Have you ever felt that God is finished with you? That you have sinned too much, gone too far?

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1-2).

Jesus answered the criticizing, self-righteous Pharisees with a parable in three parts.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” (Luke 15:4-6).

A man without Christ is like a sheep. That is not a compliment.

Sheep Are Dumb

Sheep are not very intelligent—and that pictures us. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Christ is saying, “Without me, you are spiritually like sheep.”

Because sheep do not understand, they don’t have enough sense to come home. A sheep will keep wandering and wandering, and first thing you know, he is lost.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way… (Isaiah 53:6a).

Sheep Are Defenseless

Sheep are not fit for fight, or flight.

You may not think the devil is after you, but he is. He has a plan to sabotage your life. And you have no defense against him without Christ—none! Sooner or later, the devil’s wolves will find you.

Sheep Are Dependent

Sheep need a shepherd.

Sometimes sheep become “cast”—that is, stuck on their backs. They are not agile enough to right themselves. The gas in their stomachs begins to swell. The circulation to their legs is cut off—and the sheep are going to die like that.

They cannot get up unless they are set up by the shepherd.

That is why the shepherd counts the sheep and leaves the ninety-nine in the fold to go after the one. When he finds it, he puts it on his shoulders and brings it home.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!” Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:8-10).

In the Bible, ten is the complete number. So, there were ten, and one is lost—what does that mean?

In Bible times, when a woman married, her husband would give her ten pieces of silver to wear on her forehead, and he would engrave his name on them. Those ten pieces recognized her husband’s love for her, and her love for her husband.

But if she were unfaithful, they would take one of those pieces of silver away. There would be a hideous gap. She would be disgraced.

The devil wants to make your life a disgrace to Almighty God.

The Parable of the Lost Son

A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.” So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living (Luke 15:11-13).

The inheritance is generally given when the father dies. This son was saying to his father, “Don’t give me yourself. Give me what you have.”

The world is full of people who do not want God—but they want God’s green earth, God’s fresh air, the food that God gives, etc. “God, leave me alone! I just want your wealth. I don’t care anything about you.”

Notice the three marks of the prodigal son’s life.

1. Depression

But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want (Luke 15:14).

The prodigal son spent all his money living high—wine, women, and song.

A person without Jesus Christ has no true wealth. You may say, “I’ve got a lot.” It is going to leave you, or you are going to leave it. You will stand before God and realize how bankrupt you are without Christ.

2. Disgrace

Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything (Luke 15:15-16).

Remember, Jesus has a Jewish audience for this parable of the lost son. A Jew would not touch a pig with a ten-foot pole; it was an unclean animal. Feeding pigs was as low as this boy could get.

3. Dissatisfaction

This young man was hungry. Do you have plenty to eat? There is still a spiritual hunger in your life, and do not say there isn’t. If you do not know Jesus Christ, you are empty.

Jesus said to the self-righteous Pharisees, “You want to know why I keep company with them? Because I am a friend of sinners.”

How God Saves Sinners

In this three-part parable, there were three who went out after that which is lost. They represent the Holy Trinity working together to bring people to salvation.

1. The Shepherd: Jesus, Friend of Sinners

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11).

Jesus suffered, bled, and died on the cross to bring you back in repentance to God. “…The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

2. The Woman with the Lamp: The Holy Spirit’s Conviction

The woman with the broom and the lamp speaks of God’s revealing nature. We are in darkness, but the Holy Spirit—whose job it is to illumine and convict—lights a lamp and shines it on us.

Has that “broom” ever swept your heart? God the Holy Spirit stirs up the dirt in your heart, and that lamp is lighted so that you might see and come to Jesus Christ to make your life clean.

3. The Father of the Lost Son: God’s Love for Us

Where we left the parable of the lost son (above), the young man is away from home.

His father still loves him, no matter what he has done. One day, the old man is sitting in front of his house, and he looks down the long road—and sees someone walking. He may be dressed in rags, and emaciated by sin by this time, but the father recognizes him.

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (Luke 15:20).

This is why Jesus keeps company with sinners. The Holy Spirit works with Him. And God the Father will receive those who come to Him.

List of Scriptures Referenced in This Article

Luke 15:1-20, 19:10; Isaiah 53:6; John 10:11

More Bible Verses About Jesus, Friend of Sinners

And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:11-13).
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” But wisdom is justified by her children (Matthew 11:18-19).
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20).
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