"Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Luke 15:1-2
Jesus has a lot to say about lostness because it is a huge issue with Him - and God - and all of Heaven.
It is instructive that it is to the religious leaders that He is trying to make the point of how important lost people are to Him. Unfortunately He had to do that because lost people where not important to them.
His lesson consists of three parables that fill the entire 15th chapter of Luke. In His teachings Jesus points out four kinds of lostness and the one devasting consequence of being lost. I want to take a look at each of those over the next few days.
The first level of lostness is that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They were lost within their faith. Their lostness was due to self-righteousness. Because they were sons of Abraham and because they were students and practitioners of the law they assumed they were righteous.
Let me ask you a question. If you believe you are in Paris, France but are actually in Paris, Kentucky would you be lost?
Not only would you be lost, you would be clueless and your belief would be worthless.
That pretty well describes these religious leaders. Jesus knew it, they had no idea. How lost they were is illustrated by the fact that they thought they were righteous and Jesus was a sinner. That's only 180 degrees out of phase.
What were they trusting for their righteousness? They were trusting their relatives, Abraham and Moses and King David. Since those were righteous people who pleased God and they were of the same lineage, therefore they are righteous.
They were trusting rules. These were men who knew the law inside and out. Not only did they understand the law, they knew all the applications, implications, exceptions, derivations, and permutations of the law. And they thought though having it in their head meant they had it in their heart.
And, they were trusting their rituals. They observed all the feasts and sacrifices required by the law. These guys were 100% kosher. And 100% lost.
These who were supposed to know the way and show the way were like "the blind leading the blind" into the ditch of despair. Their self-righteousness was their undoing.
What did this cost them? It cost them a relationship with the God they thought they served and with His Son, their Savior, Jesus. And it caused them to fail in the sacred responsibility God had envisioned for them to be the source of salvation for their nation.
But, in the process of pointing out what was wrong with them we risk becoming like them. We need to understand their error which was self-righteousness - looking for what was wrong with everyone else to justify their own rightness.
The truth is, each of us have a little of that in us. And if we are not careful we can have a lot of it.
How do we fight self-righteousness? We don't. That very question arises from the roots of self-righteousness. So, what do we do?
We live in relationship with Christ by faith and ask Him to unleash His Holy Spirit in our life. His Spirit of Righteousness will expose all unrighteousness in us.
Unless we lose ourselves in Him we end up lost.