The Scandalous Love of Jesus:
“Then all the tax collectors drew near to (Jesus) to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2).
The love of Jesus is scandalous. Do you know what that word means? It means ‘giving offense to the conscience or moral feelings; shocking.’ The love of Jesus was scandalous—it offended people, it shocked people, and it got Him into trouble. Look at the above Scripture. It says that tax collectors came to Jesus to listen to Him. When they did this, the religious leaders of that day got angry and said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Like that was an insult to Jesus or something! In Matthew chapter 11, the enemies of Jesus mockingly call him the friend of sinners. What a compliment to the one who came into the world to save sinners. But when the Pharisees and scribes said this to Jesus on this occasion, He told them a parable. The parable goes like this…
“A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money on wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, At home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man.” (Luke 15:11-19).
Although this parable is often called the story of the prodigal son—the wild and rebellious son—I prefer to look at it from another perspective. Although the first nine verses tell us about this prodigal son, who wasted all of his money on wild living, the main point of the story is found in the next verse… “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20).
Wow! Here is amazing, scandalous love. Notice the three things that happened here… First of all, the father saw him, saw his rebellious son returning home, his rags no doubt covered in the dirt and slop from feeding the pigs. His father saw him, and knew he was a sinner—and still accepted him. Secondly, the father ran. He didn’t sit back and wait for the son to return to him, rather, filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son. The compassion of God is followed with swift movements. And thirdly, the father kissed him—not kicked him (though we would not have been surprised if he had).
Charles Spurgeon says, “See the contrast. There is the son, scarcely daring to think of embracing his father, yet his father has scarcely seen him before he has fallen on his neck. The condescension of God towards penitent sinners is very great. He seems to stoop from His throne of glory to fall upon the neck of a repentant sinner. God on the neck of a sinner! What a wonderful picture! Can you conceive it? I do not think you can; but if you cannot imagine it, I hope that you will realize it. When God’s arm is about our neck, and His lips are on our cheek, kissing us much, then we understand more than preachers or books can ever tell us of His condescending love.”
What an amazing truth, that the father of Jesus loves sinners. Can you believe it? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). May the truth of today’s devotional give you confidence to know and believe the scandalous love that the Father of Jesus has… for you.
Pastor Chris Jordan