Summary: A teaching message on Luke 15:1-10.
Luke Series #70 June 30, 2002
Title: The 3 Things Needed for Reaching the Lost
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. This morning we are starting in Chapter 15 of the Book of Luke in our verse-by-verse teaching series out of that book.
Read Luke 15:1-10
I’ve heard about a little six-year old boy who restlessly struggled to listen to a rather lengthy sermon. After the service, the little boy asked the question that sooner or later most "church kids" ask. "Dad" he said, "what does the preacher do the rest of the week?" The dad replied, "Son, he’s a very busy man. He takes care of church business, visits the sick, studies the Bible. . . and he has to take time to rest up. You see, preaching in public is not an easy job." The little boy thought about that and said, "Well, listening ain’t so easy either!"
The truth is that listening really is not always easy, especially when the messages are challenging. Last week’s message from the end of Chapter 14 was challenging because I shared with you the total commitment necessary to follow Jesus. This week’s message may be just as challenging because I will be sharing with you on the subject of the Christians responsibility in reaching the lost. I know I was troubled in my heart as I studied this text because the more I studied this passage, the more I realized how I and the church have not been responding to the lost the way Jesus taught that we should. The message may be challenging to you today, but it is the message of the Bible, as such it is not meant to condemn us but it is meant to change us, and sometimes that requires that we be made uncomfortable.
I will go over this passage verse by verse shortly, but first I will give you an overview of what these parables are about in general.
In these two parables something of value is lost. In the stories the thing lost, whether a sheep or a coin, have monetary value. Nobody, including the religious leaders who valued material things, would ignore such a loss; rather they would put every effort into finding it and would rejoice when they did.
If this is true about things that are lost, shouldn’t it also be for people who are spiritually lost? The term "lost" refers to those who are not Christians, to those who are outside of the household of God but whom God desires to come home. You can see this in the story of the Prodigal Son where the father says about the son who has repented and returned home "he was lost and is found (verse 31)." Clearly it is those are spiritually lost who are represented by the lost things in these illustrate stories.
Shouldn’t we respond to people who are lost in the same way or even a greater way than we would to lost things? Shouldn’t we exhibit the same efforts, and perseverance in searching for them? Shouldn’t we be filled with joy at there being found? I believe that the point of this passage is primarily to remind Christians of how they should respond to the lost. You could also interpret these parables as primarily illustrating how God responds and searches for the lost. Even if that is the case, the message remains essentially the same because if God responds a certain way to those who are lost then it is obvious that Christians should follow his example.
Now that we have an overview of these 10 verses, I want to go over them verse by verse where I will share with you three things needed in order for us to reach lost. The first thing needed is found in the setting that the parables were given in and the other two things that are needed to reach the lost are found in the parables themselves.
Read Luke 15:1-2
1. The first thing needed for reaching the lost is compassion.
Jesus had the "tax collectors and sinners" gathering around him. These are lost people who were not running from Jesus but rather running to him. They were not avoiding him, ignoring him, or even hostile towards him. Verse 1 says that they were "gathering around to hear him." Why were sinners so willing and even eager to listen to Jesus? It certainly wasn’t because Jesus had an easy message that tickled people’s ears. It wasn’t because Jesus compromised on sin and said that everything they were doing was acceptable. They weren’t gathering around Jesus because he was putting on some sensationalistic show of signs and wonders. At this point in Luke’s narrative the emphasis is on Jesus’ teaching, miracles are hardly even mentioned.