Introduction: Jesus and the Pharisees had different approaches to
converting sinners. Jesus ate with them. The Pharisees thought
sinners should aspire to be like them. We know converting sinners is
an important business because conversions cause joy in heaven. How
should we relate to sinners without having them convert us? Let’s
plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn on these
important topics!

  1. God With Sinners

    1. Read Luke 15:1-2. What is the problem here? Why do the
      Pharisees “mutter” about Jesus welcoming sinners and
      eating with them?

      1. Do you know the saying “A man is known by the company
        he keeps?” Is that the problem here?(I think so.
        Perhaps the Pharisees thought Jesus was encouraging
        sinners to remain sinful.)

      2. Read Luke 7:36. What larger picture does this give us
        of Jesus’ dining companions? (Jesus would eat with
        anyone. He is not imposing character tests.)

      3. When I was young, I was taught (or at least I
        understood) that if I was involved in sin, God would
        avoid me. What do these verses suggest about that
        idea? (God does not run away from sinners.)

    2. Read Luke 15:3-6. What does this teach about God’s
      relationship to sinners? (He not only runs after them, He
      carries them home!)

      1. In this story, who had the closer relationship with
        Jesus, the saved sheep or the lost sheep? (Jesus
        spent more time finding the lost sheep. It was the
        focus of His attention. The goal, however, was to
        make the lost sheep like one of the righteous sheep.)

      2. Let’s revisit a discussion we had last week about
        evangelism. Recall that in Matthew 10:14-15 Jesus
        tells His disciples that if a person will not listen
        to the gospel message, “shake the dust off your feet”
        and move on. No chasing and no pestering those who
        reject the truth. How do you reconcile that
        instruction with Jesus chasing the lost sheep? (I
        don’t think Jesus’ parable of the sheep is about
        evangelism. I think it is about revealing God’s
        attitude toward sinners.)

    3. Read Luke 15:7. What should be our attitude towards
      sinners who repent? (We should be overjoyed.)

    4. Back on the issue of evangelism, re-read Luke 15:1. Is
      Jesus chasing sinners? (No, they are chasing Him. The
      Pharisees’ problem is what should happen once the sinners
      catch up with Jesus.)

    5. Read Luke 15:8-10. What is the focus of this woman? (Her
      lost coin.)

      1. As you know from recent lessons, I am fully behind a
        focus on making the worship service excellent. What
        does this parable suggest should be the focus of the
        church? (Both this parable and the parable of the
        lost sheep place the focus on finding the lost.)

      2. We concluded (or at least I concluded) that the lost
        sheep story was not about evangelism, it was about
        God’s attitude towards sinners. Do you think that is
        also true of the lost coin story?

      3. Even if the point of these two stories is to show
        God’s attitude towards sinners, don’t these stories
        say something about evangelism?

  2. Giving It All

    1. As you know, I believe that context in the Bible is
      exceptionally important. Let’s examine the teachings of
      Jesus that immediately precede His discussion of God’s
      attitude towards sinners. Read Luke 14:28-30. What is the
      lesson from this story?

    2. Read Luke 14:31-32. What is the lesson from this story?
      (Both stories teach us to be good planners. We should not
      enter into a project unless we have considered how best to
      execute it and whether we have the resources to finish

    3. Read Luke 14:33. Is this a bit jarring? In fact, isn’t
      this conclusion just the opposite of the stories? The
      tower and the war required the builder and the king to
      have sufficient resources to finish the job. Jesus now
      says you should be willing to have no resources! Or, does

      1. The very next chapter starts with lessons on our
        attitude toward sinners. Why? (If we are preoccupied
        with being “above” sinners so that we avoid them,
        then we are not giving up our pride.)

    4. Let’s move back even further to look at context. Read Luke
      14:25-27. Does Jesus teach us to love everyone except our
      family? (No. The idea of literally hating our family is
      contrary to the rest of the Bible, including the Fifth
      Commandment ( Exodus 20:12). I don’t think Jesus is
      telling us to give up our love for our family and replace
      it with hate. And, I don’t think Jesus is telling us to
      sell everything and replace it with nothing.)

    5. Let’s move back even further to look at context. Read Luke
      14:16-20. You know this parable because it appears in more
      than one of the gospels. What prevents these people from
      coming to the wedding feast? (They are more concerned
      about the affairs of life.)

      1. Now, tell me what you think Jesus means about
        “hating” your family, giving up “everything” and
        eating with sinners? What is the lesson Jesus is
        trying to teach us? (We cannot let our jobs, hobbies,
        families or dignity get in the way of advancing the
        Kingdom of God. The Pharisees did not want to give up
        their dignity to eat with sinners.)

    6. Read Luke 14:34-35. You have ears, what do you hear?
      (Christians need to mix with the world. We cannot let our
      dignity, our sense of superiority, our jobs, hobbies or
      family get in the way of sharing with the sinners who want
      to associate with us.)

  3. Lot

    1. Read Genesis 13:8-13. Is this the choice that Jesus is
      teaching us to make? Move into the wicked cities and set
      up evangelism centers?

      1. Do you think Lot made this choice to evangelize?

    2. Read Genesis 14:11-12. Lot is literally captured by
      sinners! Should danger cause us to turn away from city

    3. Read Genesis 14:15-16. What does this say about literally
      fighting the bad guys? What does it say about God’s
      protection for Lot?

      1. Do you notice something different about Lot’s
        residence? (In Genesis 13:12 Lot pitches his tents
        “near” Sodom. In Genesis 14:12 he is living “in

    4. Read Genesis 19:12-16. What is the real danger of a
      righteous person (or couple) moving to a place filled with
      sinners? (The danger is being co-opted by the surrounding
      evil influences.)

    5. Read Genesis 19:17 and Genesis 19:26. Why did Lot’s wife
      look back? (When I parked my new car and walked away, I
      would turn around and look at it. Her heart, her life, and
      her things were in Sodom. She could not resist a last look
      at her old life.)

  4. John the Baptist

    1. Read Matthew 3:1-3. With the background of our lesson how
      do you explain John the Baptist? Is he a mingler?

    2. Read Matthew 3:5. Was it a problem that John lived out in
      the desert? (No. People came to him!)

    3. Think about the differences between Jesus, the Pharisees,
      John the Baptist and Lot. Can you begin to formulate some
      rules about reaching sinners? (The Pharisees teach us not
      to look down on sinners. John teaches us that if we have
      the right message, sinners will come to us. Lot teaches us
      that it is dangerous to our property and our salvation to
      move in with sinners. Jesus teaches us to be available to
      sinners and be willing to interact with them.)

      1. What should you do differently than you are now to
        reach sinners?

      2. What are you doing now to reach sinners that seems to
        be validated by the Bible?

    4. Friend, sharing God’s word with sinners is an extremely
      important work. When sinners come to their senses and turn
      to God, it causes heaven to rejoice. Will you agree, right
      now, to formulate a Biblical approach to sharing the
      gospel and then put it into action?

  5. Next week: Jesus Desired Their Good.