Summary: Part 9 of 10 of the series, Supernatural Transformation. Three stories about something lost and something found reveal when Christ is the happiest. Jesus is happiest when the lost are found. How does this affect your life?
Read at beginning of service:
Psalm 96:1-3 (NIV)
1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
Let me begin this morning by asking you a question. What really excites you in life? What things do you rejoice in? I mean, what really gets you hopping inside and running around to your friends and family and leaving them remarking, "What has gotten into him today?" Sure, there are a number of things that make us happy and bring a grin to our faces and a kick to our step – but that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking you what makes you want to yell at the top of your lungs, "Yee haah!" What gets you so excited that everything pales in comparison?
Have you got an answer yet? Maybe the thing that really excites you in life is material in nature – something you have (a car, a boat, a house, a stereo, a computer, a collectible…etc.). Maybe what really excites you in life is personal in nature – something you do (eg. When you are in the midst of an intimate moment with your spouse, when you score that important goal for your team – whether the "team" is your family, your workplace, your sport – when you are involved in helping someone else out). Maybe what really excites you in life is spiritual in nature – something you experience (worshipping God, spending time in prayer, being part of a Bible Study, going to church, participating in spiritual discussions, having a God-encounter, seeing God answer prayer in your life or in someone else’s life). Maybe what really excites you in life is something else entirely, but now that I’ve got you thinking about what gets you excited in life I want to ask you another question. What do you think really excites God? What excites Jesus? What excites the Holy Spirit?
If I were to ask this question of each of you individually I’d probably get a number of answers – God gets excited when we do what He asks, God is excited and rejoices when we worship Him, God is excited when we kneel in prayer etc. Certainly, there is some truth in all of these things, but is this it? Is God happiest when we do what He wants? Is He happiest when we worship and praise Him? Is he happiest when we kneel in prayer?
To answer this question this morning, I’d like to go to God’s word and read to you some words of Jesus that I think best describe when He is the happiest. But before we do that let’s pray.
(Read Luke 15:1-32)
what get’s heaven excited?Now the first thing I’d like to do before we go any further is make a few observations about the passage I just read. Notice that there are two groups of people that Jesus is addressing when telling these parables. He is addressing those in one group who are well known as sinners and "outcasts", tax collectors and the like – and the other group that Jesus is speaking to is found snickering, grumbling, and muttering in the sidelines who were well known as "the good people, the righteous" otherwise known as the Pharisees and teachers of the law. It’s interesting to note that in this particular gospel, Luke often points out that these two groups are present wherever Jesus is teaching.
Another observation I’d like to make is the point made in the first verse that the first group - the sinners and tax collectors – were gathering around Jesus to hear HIM. They were interested in what He had to say – in fact, they were interested in the man himself. It seemed that wherever Jesus went, he was surrounded by those who should be repelled by Him. After all, He is the sinless Son of God. Wouldn’t sinners find themselves uncomfortable in His presence? Or rather, shouldn’t Jesus be uncomfortable in their presence? Indeed, this seems to be the opinion of the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they make the questioning remark, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." (v2) or in other words, "If He is who He claims to be than why is He associating with the like of these people? They aren’t His crowd, they aren’t His type!"
It is important we keep these two groups in mind when we look at these three parables. For Jesus isn’t ignorant of who He is speaking to and neither should we be.
In response to the desire of the first group to hear Him speak and the muttering of the second group who are griping about the people He is found in the company of, Jesus tells three stories. Each story speaks of something lost and of something found. A lost sheep. A lost coin. And a lost son. And at the end of each one, Jesus describes a celebration, a party. The shepherd throws the party for the lost-now-found sheep. The woman throws a party because of the lost-now-found coin. And the father throws a party in honor of his lost-now-found son.