Summary: To share Jesus’ heart is to share His conern for the wandering and lost.

“An Evangelistic Heart: ER”

Luke 15:1-32

The television show called “ER” was one of the most popular shows in television history. It tried to portray the reality of life for the personnel involved in a big city emergency room. The main purpose, of course, for the emergency room and the personnel is to meet the needs of those ill or injured who cannot adequately care for themselves. The Bible shows us a similar reality – the church is God’s emergency room, where those ill, injured, or lost can go for help. And THERE IS A LOT OF LOSTNESS IN OUR WORLD. But there is a difference – people in need, people who are lost, seldom come to the church; the church must go to them. The church must be a traveling emergency room – just as Jesus was. Listen to how Luke describes it (15:1-3): “1 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."” The religious leaders were having a hard time understanding Jesus. He was supposed to be one of them but He spent his time with all the outsiders. They were upset. How would you feel? It’s like a young girl who’s all excited about her boyfriend coming to her house to spend some time with her – and he spends all the time with playing with her little brother. She would be upset! Jesus knew what they leaders were feeling. “3 Then Jesus told them this parable …”

It was the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ who gathered around Jesus. PEOPLE ARE LOST. There are at least four types of lostness. There are, first, the WANDERERS. When I was in seminary, the administration asked me to go on a recruiting trip back to Central College, from which I had graduated. So one of the professors and I flew into DesMoines, Iowa, where the college chaplain picked us up. He started to drive us to Pella, a trip of about an hour. The three of us had a great time talking, sharing, and laughing as we traveled. Two of us had traversed this road many times so we knew the way. It was late at night, and it was dark, and I was not particularly paying attention to where we were, so I was surprised when the chaplain slowed down and stopped. As we looked around we realized we were not on the right road – and we had no idea where we were. We did know we were clearly lost. We had not set out to be lost, it was not our purpose to be lost, but we were lost. We were so busy enjoying ourselves that we had simply wandered off the right road. And we had no clue how to get back on the right road.

The reality is that there are a lot of people who are wanderers – people so busy living and enjoying life that they have simply wandered away from the truth, and now are lost. At some point they recognize they’re lost, but have no clue how to find their way back. You, in fact, probably know some people like that. So did Jesus. So (3-7): “3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” The wanderers.

Another group of lost people are the VANISHERS. Barb and I were privileged to tour the Holy Land in 1985. While there, we took over 200 slides. Upon our return we had put them together in two different presentations. In 1986 we moved from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids. Sometime later we wanted those slides and began to look for them. They were nowhere to be found. We looked in every box and closet in our house; we went back to Kalamazoo and looked in every closet in the parsonage and the church; we ran announcements in the bulletin of the church in Kalamazoo to see if anyone had seen them or knew of their whereabouts. Through no fault of their own, the slides were lost. (Maybe you’ve never lost your slides, but think about what you do when you can’t find the TV remote and it’s game time or show time…) The slides were totally unaware of their lostness and were, in fact, completely unable to know it. But they were totally lost nonetheless.

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