Tuesday

Luke 15:1-10 Tuesday 1 September 2015

Psalm: Psalm 78:1-7


Background

If the problem with yesterday's passage was that it was soshocking, then the problem with today's is that it does not shockus at all. God seeks out the lost - some of us have heard a millionsermons on the issue and can find nothing remarkable in the idea.But we will make much more sense of this passage if we put itagainst Jesus' world which was focused on groups rather thanindividuals.

We often talk about how of world is becoming moreand more individualistic without really thinking about what thattells us about the life of our ancestors. Scholars tell us that inthe ancient world, which group you belonged to really mattered notsimply to how others treated you but even to how you felt aboutyourself. We may feel a bit of family pride if a relative doeswell, but we have, on the whole, lost the sense that somehow oursense of self-respect is totally bound up with the respect that ourfamily as a group receives. Jesus lived in a world in which thegroups to which you belonged mattered, really mattered. This was tothe exclusion of those outside your group, who were often seen onlyin terms of stereotypes.

So, in Jesus' world, this is a shocking vision ofGod. Not only is God portrayed as a woman, but God is seen asreaching out beyond the group who worshipped God, to others. Thelost coin and lost sheep could be interpreted as someone who wasoriginally a member of the group who was not on the outside,perhaps because of their own actions. However, bearing in mind thatIsrael had a great prophetic tradition which constantly remindedthem that God, as the creator of the world, had an interest in allpeople, it could be anyone outside the group.


To Ponder

  • Has the message of God's care for the outsider lost is abilityto shock us (and therefore to grab our imaginations)? How might weboth grasp and live it out today?
  • There is a real note of rejoicing in this passage. How often doyou think of God rejoicing over you?
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