Most of us are likely familiar with the story of the prodigal son (Lk. 15:11-32). Yet in context the story isn’t about the son. Luke 15 begins with a group of upset people.
1 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2 (NKJV)
Here was Jesus hanging out with the wrong crowd again. When the Pharisees and scribes complained Jesus responded by telling three stories, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. The point of each story is about rejoicing over recovering that which seemed beyond recovery. In the third story he uses the rigid older brother to represent the very people who were complaining at the beginning of the chapter.
Years ago I remember hearing John Wimber tell a story of what happened early on in his walk with Jesus. John got saved and he had a strong evangelistic anointing on his life. The fruit was he kept leading lost broken people to Jesus and bringing them to the church he and his family attended. A year or two into this he said he arrived one morning and an angry older lady confronted him and said, “You! You’ve ruined my church.” She was upset about all the broken wounded people coming in and the mess they brought with them. In telling the story John said he reflected on the lady’s comment and thought yes he had ruined her church but he couldn’t leave the lost as lost.
The point? There are two really. One, our Father is much more compassionate than we might think and He calls us to carry His heart. Two, following Jesus can be messy and may lead us to hanging out with the ‘wrong crowd.’ Hopefully we are doing both – carrying His heart and hanging out with some of the wrong people seeking to show them Jesus heart.