A Reflection on Luke 15:1-10
And Jesus said, “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can saltiness be restored? It is fit for neither the soil not the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears listen!”
The very next verse in Luke’s Gospel states that all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. Perhaps they were moved by what Jesus had said about salt. Their lives had lost its saltiness. There was nothing savory about the way they were living. Truth be told, they were doing little more than surviving. They had walked away from their faith because it was no longer savory; just a bunch of rules that offered no flavor to their lives.
“What good is belief in God and following all of these rules that this God supposedly dictated to us if our lives have no flavor? There is no taste in our religion. It is far from savory; it is not good for anything,” they had often thought. Now Jesus was standing before them saying the very words that they had been thinking for so long! “If our faith, if our belief system, if our religion does not offer the transformational salty flavor we are seeking, what good is it?”
While the tax collectors and sinners were drawn into the conversation by Jesus’ stunning assessment of the hole in their lives, the religious leaders were grumbling. “This fellow welcomes these sinners and even goes so far as to eat with them!” The religions people were doubling down on their rules, even though these rules had long since lost their flavor. The rules were all they knew. The rules were their way of life, their foundation. The religious leaders’ live were not savory either, but without the rules they would have nothing, so they doubled down on the rules out of fear of total meaninglessness.
As the two groups were gathering around him, Jesus told two parables about seeking what is lost. In both cases, the stories describe people who found what they were seeking. Perhaps these two people found what they were seeking because they knew exactly what they were looking for. The shepherd finds his sheep because he has a laser like focus on finding that animal. In the first place, he knew it was lost. A less observant shepherd might not have notices 1 of his 100 sheep had strayed. 100 sheep are a lot of animals to keep track of, especially when they all look the same! Not this shepherd. He knew what he wanted. He wanted all of his sheep to be well kept and accounted for. And that is exactly what he found. Because he sought it. Because he knew what he was looking for.
A woman loses one of 10 coins. She has not taken them out of the house, there have been no visitors. The coin did not get up and walk away on its own. The woman could have told herself that she would just keep an eye out for it and eventually it would show up. And it probably would have. Eventually, perhaps the woman would have found the coin in the midst of her daily duties. But she was not wired to wait. She knew exactly what she wanted. She knew what she wanted, and she went after it with laser like focus. And she found it.
Jesus concludes his two parables with statements that give us a clue that he knows exactly what his crowd wants. They want to savor a deep joyful relationship with God. And that is what God also desperately wants. There is much joy in the heavens when one person who has left the Way of God, gets back on the path, returns to seeking God with laser like focus.
This leads me to wonder, what is it that I really want? What do I want so much that I am willing to center my life upon that search? As I meditate on this scripture, I realize I want a relationship with God that is like Jesus’ relationship with God. I want to see through the eyes of Jesus. I want to love as he loves, I want to know God as he knows God. I want that kind of savory salt-flavored life. I also realize there is one more final question to ask.
“How bad do I want it?”
May you be able to savor a relationship with Christ in all is glorious fullness.