This chapter addresses those who are were lost but also separated. People socially pushed to the margins due to race or practice or mistakes. Jesus embraces these people of separation in such a way that he himself is marginalized. He himself is separated.
Burge notes the opinion of the religious leaders toward Jesus – “Jesus is at fault because he fully accepts people who have failed by every religious and social standard…”
The culture values separation. Jesus inclusion.
Jesus makes his statement on inclusion by telling 3 stories of loss. 100 Sheep. 10 Coins. 2 Sons.
The first in this narrowing progression introduces us to a shepherd; admired in biblical literature but not so in real life. “Suppose one of you has a 100 sheep” Jesus says-evoking discomfort from the religious leaders as a shepherd’s work was hard, dangerous and kept them from keeping the law-“if you were to lose one would you not leave the 99 to go look for it?”
Burge insights- 1. The flock were likely the collective animals of the community 2. Shepherds didn’t work alone. The remaining 99 would’ve still been cared for. 3. The village celebrated the return.
Next we go from likening God to a shepherd to that of a woman (gasp!) losing a single coin. Squirm Pharisees, squirm.
The woman loses, seeks and finds resulting in again a communal celebration. Things that find themselves separated are meant to be sought, restored and celebrated.
The 3rd story develops in complexity but retains congruency. Emphasis remains on community and separation. The father’s affairs with his sons would not have been private nor quiet. The village would be involved and offended and angry at the departing son and the giving father. And then upon his return the village would celebrate together. All but one.
The one who remained. The older son, who had considerable rights to this estate, was seemingly left out. Questioning the father for welcoming this son who separated while at the same time shaming the father by not being present at this community celebration.
The chapter ends by drawing some modern day parallels and ultimately questions…
Do you welcome those on the outside? And celebrate their inclusion?
Jesus lived in the margins.
About the author:
Jesse Giglio loves stories, at least good stories but then again thatʻs why we have bad ones…so we can tell. He thinks life is meaningful. Sometimes the way we live it is not. He’s a teaching pastor and mission architect in Southern California. But prefers activist and raconteur. His church isnʻt too big and isnʻt too small but itʻs not just right either. Itʻs probably a lot like yours.