Summary: The three parables of Luke 15 reflect the Triune’s God seeking the lost
Luke 15:1-10 Parable of the Lost Sheep
Story: A young man who had been raised as an atheist –was training to be an Olympic diver.
The only religious influence in his life came from his outspoken Christian friend.
The young diver never really paid much attention to what his friend said about Jesus.
One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he attended.
The lights were all off, but as the pool had big skylights and the moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by.
The young man climbed up to the highest diving board, and as he turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall.
It was the shadow of his body in the shape of a cross.
It was as if God was reaching out to him.
And so instead of diving, he knelt down and asked Jesus to come into his life.
As the young man stood up, a maintenance man walked in and turned the lights on.
The pool had been drained for repairs!!!.
(The Shadow of the Cross. From the Internet. Author Unknown.)
Both parables in our Gospel reading today –
The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:1-7) & The Parable of the Lost Coin (Lk 15:8-10)
remind us that Jesus is actively looking for those
who are lost.
It is never too late and Jesus gives up on no one.
I don’t know if it struck you – but it did me – the expression in both parables: “There will be more joy in heaven” or words to that effect
It is a bit strange isn’t it – that God seems more interested in those who turn to him than those who “do not need to repent”.
But is it strange?.
Let’s look at the stories in context
The Pharisees thought that through their own righteousness they could please God.
Yet Isaiah puts his finger on the matter when he says:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; (Is 64:6)
In other words, in God’s sight, no one is righteous enough!!
So what Jesus is saying is – don’t delude yourselves – you all need to repent!
Story: In the 18th Century, Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntington invited the Duchess of Buckingham to come and here George Whitfield preach.
The Duchess wrote to the Countess of Huntington about the Gospel that Whitefield and his fellow “Methodists” preached as follows:
“ It is monstrous to be told that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl on the earth.
This is highly offensive and insulting; and I cannot but wonder that your Ladyship should relish any sentiments so much at variance with high rank and good breeding.” (George Whitefield and the Great Awakening – John Pollock p.95).
That letter sums up the Duchess’ attitude was about herself – and indeed tells us a lot about her.
Even one of her easygoing contemporaries found her obnoxious. Indeed her pride closed her ears to the Gospel.
For it is ONLY when we realise that we are “sinful as those common wretches” that we can be open to the Gospel.
Luke 15 actually covers three parables,
The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:1-7)
The Parable of the Lost Coin (Lk 15:8-10)
The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-31)
And the obvious theme running through all three parables is that “there is joy in heaven on one sinner who repents”
Jesus picked ordinary everyday imagery to communicate to people with .
The lost sheep and the shepherd
The lost coin and the housewife
The lost son and the Father.
These would have been everyday images that people, living a poor farming community, would have easily understood
And yet there is a more profound level to it too.
The use for example of the concept of the Shepherd would have triggered many different thoughts
1. The reputation of the Shepherds
Shepherds in those days were very much lower class and looked down upon by the Pharisees.
They had this “unfortunate habit of confusing “thine “ and “mine” as they moved about the country (The Message of Luke – Michael Willcock p. 150).
Things went missing when shepherds hit town.
And in addition they didn’t keep the ceremonial law – that was so sacred to the devout Jew.
2. Yet God describes Himself as a Shepherd
And yet when Jesus told the story of the Lost Sheep, his allegory would not have been missed, as the Jews were steeped in Old Testament Scripture
The would have recognised immediately that God is the shepherd.
Indeed we see similarities in the book of Ezekiel to Jesus parable of “the Lost Sheep”