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A Long Way Off

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Luke 15

The Pharisees, the religious elite of Jesus’ day, spent much of their time trying to expose Jesus as a fraud. We see one of these instances at the beginning of Luke 15. As tax collectors and sinners gathered around Jesus, the Pharisees started commenting on the company Jesus keeps. It’s as if Jesus reads their minds as he tells three stories about lost things, signifying God’s response to lost people.

Of the three stories Jesus told in Luke 15, I think the Pharisees would have had the most difficult time with the third one. Because they knew the law inside and out, they would have been familiar with Deuteronomy 21:18-21, which names stoning as the punishment for a rebellious child. This law must have come to mind when the lost son headed home. But, instead of doing what the Pharisees might have expected, the father sees his son on the horizon and runs to him, greeting him with an embrace and a kiss.

Romans 8:15 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God didn’t wait for us to pull it all together to be good enough. He knew we never could, so He sent Jesus to die while we were at our worst.  He loved us while we were still a long way off. The Bible reveals a God who would go to the ends of the earth for his lost children, who, like a good father, runs to us and brings us home in celebration at the first glimpse of surrender.

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