Summary: Eighth in series. God seems to turn the world upside down. As Christians our priorities do the same.

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"In Christ"

"Upside Down, Inside Out"

Luke 15:1-7

Introduction: Talk of the church about our identity

Carrying us into the next century

Must ascertain our identity, and propagate that identity

2 Groups

1) change-adapt

2) maintain integrity of the past


Wanted purity in the face of an opposing, carnal culture where humanism reigned supreme

Pharisees sought to maintain the Jewish identity by holding to the past

They were to be a different people

Laws of purity and separation

1. No idols

Exodus 20:3-4,23

"You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth...You shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold." (RSV)

2. Dietary restrictions

Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14

3. Clothing restrictions

Deuteronomy 22:5

"A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment" (RSV)

4. Hair cut restrictions

Leviticus 19:27

"You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard." (RSV)

5. Separate from other nations

Exodus 34:13-17; Deuteronomy 7:1-3; Ezra 10:11

"Now then make confession to the Lord the God of your fathers, and do his will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives." Ezra 10:11 (RSV)

Although we give them a negative assessment, their desire was to protect their identity as the people of God. These were God’s laws.

Tax Collectors and Sinners

For Jesus to eat with tax collectors and sinners was a problem

Tainted by their culture. Lived in association and conjunction with the Romans and their highly pagan, Hellenistic, erotic culture; which they had adopted from the Greeks.

Tax Collector

low life who not only supported the Romans by collecting taxes, but would in fact rob his own people to do so.


sinners was just a broad category with everyone else who lived the secular lifestyle: prostitutes, pig herders, drunks, unbelievers who overtly broke the laws of God

To intermingle with such disrepute was to sully oneself beyond degree. You couldn’t take enough showers to get the filth off.

What baffles the Pharisees, these protectors of the faith, is that Jesus would so blatantly sully himself.

"This man receives sinners and eats with them."


In response Jesus tells this parable.

On the surface it seems straightforward

man has 100 sheep

man loses one

man leaves 99

man looks for one

man throws party for finding sheep

The problem is the economics. What kind of a steward leaves 99 sheep unattended in the wilderness and goes out to find the one? A wise manager would protect the remaining 99, keep a stronger vigilance, and simply write off the one as a loss.

But in Jesus’ parable everything is turned around. Instead of taking value in the 99 value is found in the return of the one lost sheep.

"And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’" (RSV)

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