Meals with Jesus…
EXAMINE His & Hers: His Love (Luke 15)
Jesus is drawing crowds from all manners of life; the religious the irreligious, saints and sinners, high class and the outcaste. His main audience is often those who are considered unwelcome and unwanted. But the religious Pharisees continually mutter (cf.5:30; 19:7; Matt 20:11) about Jesus. Jesus is called a friend of sinners and to them it is not positive. Luke 15 opens with this thought and appears to be the purpose for Jesus telling this parable(s). It is one parable in three episodes; called the Lost Sheep, the Lost Silver and the Lost Son. Each episode tells the deep heavenly and unfathomable realities about the kingdom and character of God.
Let’s look at the parable with each episode and at the end will make several observations about God’s kingdom, character and application for us as believers today. Jesus starts the parable with 2 illustrations:
Lost Sheep Luke 15:4-7
Jesus appeals to the group’s livelihood of sheep. If one has a 100 sheep and 1 is lost, he will leave the 99 safe to pursue and rescue the 1. And after finding that 1, there will be care for this sheep. The lost sheep will have been weak for having wandered so far away and needing special attention; so the shepherd will put it on his shoulders. This rescue will also bring about celebration. The shepherd will even call others to share in his joy.
Today, when someone loses an animal – a pet – people place up signs of the lost pet.
The Shepherd in this story is not passive but active in pursuit for the lost sheep.
Lost Silver Luke 15:8-10
Jesus appeals to the group’s livelihood of silver. If a woman has 10 silver coins then this is likely her entire savings. A single coin would have been worth a day’s wages and to have 10 together would have been saving for something extremely special – perhaps a wedding or an inheritance for family. Yet, the woman loses one in a dark, windowless house and she has to light a lamp, sweep the entire house and diligently seek after it.
You know the frantic that happens when you lose your car keys, something less valuable. Or the panic when a credit card or wallet is missing.
Further, this is not a child looking for something – “I can’t find it” “Did you look?” “Oh, I had to look to find?” Instead, this is a woman searching, sweeping, scouring every corner detail. She has great determination to discover the hidden coin and will not stop until she does. And when she does find it she celebrates.
Lost Son Luke 15:11-24
Jesus continues the parable that is commonly referred to as the Prodigal Son. Interestingly enough, the word “prodigal” is not found in this passage or any where else in the Bible. The word is a description of someone who is wastefully and recklessly extravagant or self-indulgent; a spend thrift. It describes the lifestyle of one of the sons in the story.
In this third episode of the parable we can examine 3 characteristics of a godly father’s love.
1) Fathers extend love through patience (15:11-16).
2) Fathers extend love through pursuit (15:17-20).
3) Fathers extend love through forgiveness (15:21-32).
The lost belong to someone. The parable is not meant to solely focus on that which is lost but to whom the lost belong. The sheep belong to the shepherd; the silver belonged to its master; the son belonged to the father.
As believers, we need to take this personally. Some of the lost live in your own home. Some of the lost have known you for decades.
Some of the lost are waiting on you to find them.
Joy is found in the mission of recovery. Notice that with each rescue there was great joy and celebration. And the rejoicing was not just made up for the story but is a reality in the kingdom of heaven.
15:7 “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
As for us, when something is lost and later found, anxiety and depression are relieved. Likewise, when a person turns away from sin to worship God this catalyzes celebration and joy. If you and our church want to experience greater joy we must be about the mission of recovering souls.
Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the [SENT] feet of those who preach the good news.”
Joy is found because repentance is possible. If the shepherd, the silver owner or the father did not believe they could find that which was lost then there would be no joy. But in each episode we see that the patience and pursuit of the finder because there was a faith that the lost could be found; a change of circumstances and repentance was possible.
No one is too far from God’s reach. The door is always open to those who return to God in repentance and faith. But realize that repentance is not mere words or actions to earn our way back to God. Genuine repentance is awakening to reality. It is an accurate assessment of your own character and circumstances. It is a heartfelt brokenness realizing that you have not only crossed the line of God’s law but you have individually offended God’s person. You are undeserving yet through trusting and receiving God’s grace you are changed and restored in a right relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.
As for us, we may be tempted to give up hope on ourselves or those we love. We may want to write someone off or abandon the effort to bring someone to repentance and saving faith. This message is for you – there is still time.