The picture is cute. Right? Who doesn’t love an adorable, fuzzy, wuzzy lamb? So let’s leave it at that, cute sheep, cute story, cute Jesus…hmmm.
Oh, it’s tempting to boil Jesus’ stories down into something cute, cuddly, and comforting. But, then we turn Jesus into a buddy Jesus, a cuddly- wuddly pal who tells us what we want to hear, rather than changing how we live.
Our text this week opens with this:
“Jesus became increasingly popular among notorious sinners—tax collectors and other social outcasts. 2 The Pharisees and religious scholars noticed this.
Pharisees and Religious Scholars: This man welcomes immoral people and enjoys their company over a meal!” (Luke 15: 1-2, The Voice)
Self-appointed judge and jury, the leaders of the church witness Jesus hanging out with the notoriously immoral, and they want it to stop. There’s nothing cute about it. And how does Jesus respond, he tells stories about lost sheep and lost coins. Stories that on their surface are harmless enough, but listen closely, and they start to get under the skin, dangerously close to the heart. I find myself wondering, “Am I the wandering sheep, or the good sheep? I don’t want to be a sheep. Am I a Pharisee? And why does this story bring out a desire to be a notorious sinner?” These stories aren’t cute. This is Jesus comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable (thank you Finley Peter Dunne.)
Join me Sunday as we explore together, what does it mean to be lost and found by the one who is anything but cute.
I’ll see you on Sunday.