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Summary: Jesus would probably find it very difficult today to find a church willing to have him as their pastor.

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Sermon for Luke 15:1-10

September 16, 2007

Jesus would probably find it very difficult today to find a church willing to have him as their pastor. You see, Jesus didn’t fit in the mold of what the church people (the Scribes and Pharisees) thought a religious leader should look like, or act like. Jesus didn’t wear all the priestly garb. He walked around in sandals with no collar. He didn’t sit in his ivory tower giving lectures praising them when they were right, or even scolding them when they were wrong.

Instead much of the time, Jesus made his home among the everyday people and simply told them parables—short stories that challenged their minds and made them think about their lives, their relationship with God and other human beings. Today Jesus challenges their/challenges our understanding of God’s unlimited love and forgiveness with two very simple stories—the lost sheep and a lost coin.

They are not stories about sheep herding and good housekeeping. These are two stories combined with our readings that teach about God’s amazing grace. Today’s lessons are about grace and grace only.

There is in them not one single note of earning or merit, not one breath about the rewarding the rewardable, correcting the correctable, or improving the improvable. There is only the gracious, saving determination of the shepherd, the woman—God to save the lost and raise the dead.

And while this should seem like extremely good news, we sometimes, really most of the times don’t buy it.

We like the Pharisees and Scribes feel there must be something we, more specifically there must be something others must do to gain God’s favor, and the readings, Jesus in particular tells us No! Not a single thing!

Let’s carry forward last week’s theme of not having God’s eyesight and not having all the answers by starting out today again asking what if. What if you died today and ended up at the pearly gates of heaven? There you are greeted by King David of the Old Testament. The author of Psalm 51 we just read. I think we might be very pleased with our reception—don’t you? At least we would think we are at the right place.

However, what if you died today and ended up at the pearly gates of heaven? There you are greeting by Adolph Hitler and Saddom Hussein? First you might wonder if your at the right place, and if you where, you might question the justice of God. How in the world did these evil scoundrels get to the same place as me—as David?

Yet if you think about it…wasn’t it David….author of Psalm 51…..that acted like an evil scoundrel in committing adultery and then having the husband killed? Didn’t I a few years back act like an evil scoundrel when I………well I won’t go into that?

Are there degrees of sinners? Like a scale or graph? Where here’s the lowest with Hitler and Sadam. Here’s the top of heap with maybe David or Mother Teresa? After all, David did write that beautiful prayer of repentance. And where is the cut off? Where do I fall in? Somewhere in the middle? Is that high enough? Or is it too low?


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