Jesus loves lost people

Jesus has a heart for lost people! Many times throughout the gospels we see stories of Jesus going out of his way to reach a lost person. On one occasion, when he was in the presence of some people of questionable character, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were quick to whisper about the scandal of it! — “How can this man hang out with those people?! Doesn’t he know they’re sinners?” (Side note — we are all sinners!)

Jesus answers them with the Parable of the Lost Sheep. (Luke 15:1-7) The point of the parable was clear.  When a shepherd loses one of their sheep, they don’t just shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh, well! I’ve still got all these other sheep. I don’t care about the one I lost.” On the contrary!  They leave the rest of the sheep safe in the fold and go out looking for the one that is lost. Jesus said that the reason he came was to seek and save the lost.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10

His message for lost people was clear.  He declared to them that he was the way, the truth and the life and that no one could come to the Father except through him. (John 14:6)  He warned them to enter through the narrow gate that leads to life, not the wide gate that leads to destruction. (Matthew 7:13-14) He told them that choosing to follow him would cost them. (Luke 14:25-33) And he promised them that if they trusted in him, they need not be troubled. That he would go and prepare a place for them and one day return so that they could always be with them. (John 14:1-3) Jesus also had a message for the self-righteous Pharisees.  He let them know that there was more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7)

Jesus loves lost people.  He died for lost people. Every one of us was once lost and it was because of his grace alone that we were saved, through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) As followers of Jesus, we should have the same heart for lost people as he does.  We should eagerly share the amazing truth of the gospel with them so that they can believe and be saved. We should pray that God will soften their hearts to receive the message and repent. Then we should celebrate with heaven when they do!

Before Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection, he gave us clear instructions about reaching the lost.

“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” – Mark 16:16

Those are our marching orders!

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Fruitless folly

In the moment that you declare out loud that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you are saved! (Romans 10:9) That one moment alters your eternal destination, but it should also alter your whole life! It is true that God wants us to come to him just as we are, but that does not mean he intends to let us stay that way. God wants us to become more and more like his Son and our time on earth will be spent in the potter’s hands being formed into his image. (Jeremiah 18) Jesus wants to see fruit in the lives of the redeemed!

“A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, “I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden’.” – Luke 13:6-7

I can see a clear parallel between this parable and the life of a believer.  We are the fig tree, planted in the garden at the moment we become saved. We are planted so that we can grow and produce fruit. Jesus is the gardener and he keeps checking on us to see if we’re growing fruit.  As with any tree, the fruit won’t grow in abundance all at once but there will be little buds here and there until eventually the fruit begins to bloom. I shudder to think of Jesus looking at my life and being disappointed in the lack of fruit. After all, he has given us a super-charged fertilizer in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This parable also talks about the gardener coming to a point where he’s waited long enough for fruit to appear on the tree. Where he finally decides to cut it down because it’s just taking up space in the garden. Since I believe that if you truly accept Jesus as your Savior you cannot lose your salvation (Romans 11:29; John 10:27-29), I think this is more applicable to someone who’s just “talking the talk”.  This is probably a picture of someone who at one time in their life “prayed a prayer” or in some other way thought they’d give Jesus a try but never truly surrendered their life to him. They had a moment in time that they never looked back on and the life they’ve lived since then has not been a life changed by a redeeming Savior. If that is you – repent now before it’s too late.

“…And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.” – Luke 13:3

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” – John 15:4