Rejoice with Me
'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.'
September 9, 2022, Words By: Gideon Ochieng, Image By: Blakely Dadson
Recently, as I was returning home from a long day at the office, I came across a crowd of people not far from my home. It kept on growing and within a few minutes, the road was completely blocked. It was hard to tell what was going on. But a few meters away, in a ditch across the road, I was told, there were two young men who had been beaten. Some said they were dead. Others thought they were still breathing but would not make it to the hospital. An ambulance was on standby with a police car not so far from the scene.
The high unemployment rate and the polarizing electioneering period we just came from were both major contributors to a rising crime rate in the city. These two, I am told, were part of a gang that tried to snatch a purse from a woman who was walking back home. Her screams for help alerted people nearby. They responded by attacking the young men who tried unsuccessfully to escape. Unfortunately, I am told, they did not survive.
It didn’t take long before I noticed several women who were pushing their way through the crowd and trying to prevent people from taking photos of the injured men. They called the victims by their names and claimed to know them. They were mourning over these teens. The fact that they were willing to associate with perpetrators at their lowest moment left no doubt in anyone’s mind that these were blood relatives.
It is easy to associate with people of good standing in society. There is a sense of pride associated with “successful people,” known in religious circles as “the holy ones.” But more often than not, only a shared bloodline would oblige someone to claim affiliation with an outcast.
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1 – 2)
In Luke 15, The Pharisees and the scribes grumble because Jesus entertained the outcasts. In fact, he didn’t just entertain their presence, he also affirmed it by sharing a meal. He affirms their humanity and their special place among God’s children.
In response to the reproach of the “righteous,” Jesus tells two parables: the first is about a person who risks everything, leaving behind 99 sheep to go find the one that is lost; the second is about a woman who tirelessly searches her entire house trying to find one lost coin. Both stories make clear that Jesus places a high value on making the community whole, and he calls us to celebrate when that happens. Our “wholeness” is more important to him than our individual brilliant performance.
We later see in the parable of the lost son that the father rejoices and spares no resources to throw a party for the prodigal son upon his return. The father is always welcoming those who draw near to him; he’s never ashamed. Jesus seems to remind those who follow him that there is enough of him to go around — His love is abundant. We should go out and share that good news freely with those who would dare listen. Rather than erecting barriers, we should be at the forefront of bringing them down so that everyone can taste the goodness of God.
Dwelling Among Us
In what ways have you participated in hindering people from experiencing the fullness of Christ? How might Christ be calling you today to bring down those barriers in your community so that many sons and daughters may come to eat freely from the table set before all of us by Christ himself?