Summary: Message on the lost and found parables of Luke 15.
“Lost and Found and Celestial Parities”
When thoughts become a pattern of thinking they sprout attitudes. Attitudes blossom into behavior. Behavior becomes habit. Habit becomes character.
Transformed living cannot take place without transformed thinking.
We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Jesus used parables, illustrations from the world of men to illustrate the principles of kingdom living. Most of the parables have a context that triggered the parable and a practical point to address the issue encountered in the context.
What do we do when someone around us is in rebellion? How should we think and act toward sinners? What responsibility do we have to those who reject God’s ways? What about our attitude toward unbelievers? What thinking absorbs our mind when we encounter street people, rebellions teenagers, delinquents, drug addicts, alcoholics, and others whose sins become externally obvious? What about those in the church who stop coming? Those who leave? Those struggling with sin? Jesus told three stories to emphasize the proper attitude and actions toward such people that would be a good measuring rod against our own thinking and attitudes.
I. The Particular perspective
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." Luke 15:1-2
Spiritually hungry tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to him. These were people considered by the ‘spiritually elite’ Pharisees and scribes to be rejected and avoided. Yet Jesus responded much differently. He continually received them and continually ate with them. He received them, welcomed them, accepted them and even sought to connect with them. To receive was to draw someone into your circle, cherish, accept, or anxiously wait. In order to respond in this way required a certain thinking and corresponding attitude. Jesus not only received them but went even deeper by eating with them. Eating a meal together in that culture was a sign of acceptance, hospitality and fellowship. Jesus not only accepted them but connected with these people because he saw and ascribed value to them. They were all image bearers of His father and in need of the truth. The response of the religious leaders was not what we might expect from godly men.
Those who had come to point people to God purposely blocked the way. They fancied themselves as the holy gatekeepers commissioned to protect the kingdom from all undesirables and sinners. When they noticed Jesus receiving and connecting to the very people they were sworn to despise, they verbalized their disapproval.
The verb tense used here indicates that anytime they noticed Jesus reaching out to the “unacceptable” class of people they would complain even more. “Grumbled” mutter complain, murmur stemming from a strong personal attitude. Their negative attitude toward Jesus here is obvious by their designation “this man.” Jesus not only welcomes them but eats with them like they were His friends.
What was the attitude of the religious guys? Sinners aren’t worthy of God’s attention.
Reject them. Avoid them. These were “hungry sinners’. They were there to hear what Jesus had to say about God. The Pharisees and Scribes had a man-made perception of sin.
In their mind there were two categories of people. Religious people. Sinners. They failed to realize that all have sinned. Everyone is a sinner because everyone sins. This designation describing ones sinful bent in life applies to everyone. Everyone sins. There are sinners who are well aware of their sinfulness. There are sinners who deny their sinfulness.
Jesus told these parables to address the wrong attitude and actions of the religious leaders toward sinful people. In doing so, He teaches a most powerful lesson concerning how God feels about sinners and how we also should respond to those who sin (including ourselves).
II. The Pertinent Parables
Common elements in each parable
•Each story focused on someone or something “lost” that was once connected.
•Each parable highlighted the action of the owner toward the lost.
•Each parable made application to the eventual repentance and return of the lost.
•Each parable emphasized the jubilant response to the repentance of the sinner.
Each story highlights a slightly different aspect of the owners “search” which we will cover in the story.
The term “sinner” should be explored just a bit before diving into the stories. Every word in any language has a “range of usage” that must be considered. The term used here conveys the basic idea of “missing the mark”. A trespass indicates the act of proceeding where we should not be going. Sinners, in this context, refers to any who fail to reach God’s standard. A sinner is one who continues to “miss the mark”. Scripture emphatically declares that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.