Summary: This sermon encourages the believer to embrace lost people as the father embraced his rebellious son.
As Jesus moves through these stories, He is placing greater and greater emphasis upon the value of the thing lost. In the illustration of The Lost Sheep, there was 1 sheep out of 100 missing, just 1%. In the illustration of The Lost Silver, there was 1 coin out of 10 missing, 10%. In the illustration of The Lost Son, there is 1 son out of 2 missing, or 50 %. In the first 2 stories, the objects missing were animal and material. In this illustration, the object missing is a human. Each time, the object lost grows in value and importance. Jesus is trying to tell us that “Every soul is precious to God, even yours!”
Jesus makes no distinction for reaching lost people. Anything lost is worth being found.
Each of these illustrated stories possesses a level of intimacy for lost people. The shepherd has an intimate concern for the sheep because it’s out of the protection of the shepherd. The woman has an intimate closeness with the coin because of what the coin represents in her headband. The father has an intimate connection with his sons because they are a family.
Footnote: Here is a three principle practice for evangelism –
- Concern: As Christians, saved by grace we should be concerned about those you are out of the love and protection of the Great Shepherd.
- Closeness: Hold lost people dear to your heart to the point that you can’t live without them.
- Connection: Build relationships with lost people to bring them into the family of faith.
However, out of these three illustrated stories, I believe the most intimate story told relating to reaching lost people is found here in the story of the lost sons. The driving factor of this story is the love of the father towards his two sons. The point in this driving factor of love says to us that embracing lost people starts with a love for lost people. It’s difficult to embrace that which you don’t love and love that which you don’t embrace.
All three (3) stories communicate an important principle that is to be our primary motivation for reaching lost people. Our motivation for reaching lost people is not:
- To grow a church
- To increase the churches finances
Our primary motivation for reaching lost people is the burning desire to see lost people come into an intimate relationship with a our loving Father, God.
This final story drives home the point that God has a special place in His heart for lost people. However, this story takes it to a whole new level. It’s more personal. Jesus uses a family environment to paint the picture that lost people matter whether their in a wilderness, dirty house, far country, and in the house (or in our families). Every soul is precious to God!
This story shows us two (2) vital attributes of our loving Father.
I. The GRACE of our Father – V. 11-16
The text says; “A certain man had two sons; and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me portion of goods that’s coming to me’. And he (the father) divided unto them his living.”
Interesting! This son had to know the father well enough to know that if he asked the father would give it to him. This young man’s downslide was not only in the asking but an assumed familiarity with the father.
Here’s what I mean;
I have a friend at work who is a successful businessman. He owns and operates his own company while working a full time job. About a year or two ago he designed a new product called the driving sleeve. It is designed to protect a persons arm from sun burn while driving in extreme heat. He’s gone through the normal process of starting a business in getting incorporated and new product licensed so that no one can steal his idea. For the last year or so he’s been talking to me about the progress of his business, I’ve assisted him in writing a business plan to present to investors, to acquire a business loan, etc. Needless to say his business is well on it’s way to becoming a million dollar plus business. He’s purchased a $12m sewing business for $500,000 that is already in the retail business with major retail chains (JC Penneys, Target, Walmart, etc) and sporting divisions (NBA, MLB, NFL, etc). I mean his business is set to be successful.
After one of our conversations regarding the progress his business, with gleam and excitement in his eyes he made this comment; “It’s the man upstairs making this happen!” Without assuming anything, I asked who are you talking about and he said, God.
I’m pretty confident that he doesn’t have a personal relationship with God. But the point is this, too many people are comfortable knowing about God but not knowing God for themselves. And that’s the challenge of our day, getting people away from just know about God but showing them the importance of having an intimate relationship with a loving Father.