What Jesus proposed in this passage—no, in fact, commanded—is a fundamentally and wholly different way of looking at outsiders and the unsaved than we are accustomed to and inclined toward.
Think of the daily outrage about “the culture” featured in evangelical social media feeds. We are offended, shocked, and often driven to attack by what should be an utterly unsurprising fact of life: people who don’t know Jesus act like they don’t know Jesus. Sinners sin. That this is the sad state of things doesn’t make sin acceptable, of course, nor does it mean Christians are not called to preach against sin. The gospel of Jesus is good news for sinners, and anyone who isn’t able to face first the facts of his or her own sin will not be able to receive the grace that liberates him or her from it. This reality should affect how we look at sinners.
Jesus responded to the accusatory insults about His “welcoming sinners” with a story about a shepherd who prioritizes the lost sheep, then one about a lost coin, and then one about two sons, the latter being the passage of focus for this session. Jesus’ teaching in these parables turns our spiritual meritocracy, or our system of trying to earn God’s favor, on its head. In the economy of the kingdom of God, there are no “good people” and “bad people.” There are just people (sinners, all), and then there’s Jesus.
So the next time you’re tempted to be outraged by the latest report that lost people do indeed act like lost people, remember your Savior who was not repulsed by you. When He saw sinners, He had compassion for them. And this is not just good news for those offensive sinners “out there.” It’s good news for you too.
Tips for Teaching This Week’s Session of The Gospel Project for Adults
Every week for Volume 4: From Captivity to the Wilderness, Ken Braddy, Lifeway’s director of Sunday School, will offer guidance to help leaders prepare to lead and teach each session of The Gospel Project for Adults.
Tips for Teaching This Week’s Session of The Gospel Project for Students
Every week, student ministry leaders offer guidance to help leaders prepare to lead and teach each session of The Gospel Project for Students. Listen in as he shares:
- The main point of the session
- Any challenges and opportunities for additional discussion that may arise during this session
- Encouragements for leaders
A Final Reminder
Don’t forget, you can find tools to help you prepare and lead the discussion in the Additional Resources for this volume. We hope these are a blessing to you as you walk through this session together.
*This week’s leader devotional is written by Jared Wilson. It is adapted from the daily devotions for Unit 25, Session 2 from The Gospel Project for Adults’ Daily Discipleship Guide.