Summary: The cause of Christ is “to seek and save the lost”. This can seem simple enough…but sometimes the human heart can miss the heart of God.
The cause of Christ is “to seek and save the lost”. This can seem simple enough…but sometimes the human heart can miss the heart of God.
This is precisely what we discover in Luke 15:1-2, a showdown between
RELIGIOUS PERCEPTIONS AND DIVINE PASSION:
“Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law all muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”
• The religious spirit can be self-centered…have self-righteous fear…are unable to accept their own sin, shame…aren’t able to be close to others …of messiness.
• Those who actually believe that they can become clean, can’t receive the mercy of God.
• Pharisees viewed contact with the less religious as defiling…a great contrast to divine passion.
JESUS IS SO ADAMANT THAT HE TELLS NOT ONE BUT THREE STORIES! This is the only time that he responds with three stories.
“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 over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
• A shepherd work is not the passive role that we might imagine. The shepherd in Judea had a hard and dangerous task. Pasture was scarce…plateaus were narrow and then plunged down wild cliffs dropping down to the desert below.
• They were personally responsible if even one sheep was lost. They had to bring home fleece. They became experts at tracking and could follow footprints for miles.
• There would be many communal flocks. One sheep could return home and all would watch and rejoice.
“8 Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 An when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
• One coin was not worth much, but still a day’s wage. There was possibly a more romantic reason for searching so hard for that coin. The mark of a woman was the headdress made of ten silver coins linked together with a silver chain. It was like a wedding ring that couldn’t be taken even by debt collectors.)
“11 Jesus continued: ‘There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country, and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”