Summary: jesus told three parables, each revealing the Fathers heart. The one message from each stroy is that God rejoices when a child returns home.
WHAT MAKES GOD SMILE
There is a story of an old bag lady that was saved while attending a Billy Graham crusade. At the end of the service as he always does, Billy instructed the new believers to find a Bible believing church to attend.
The woman, not knowing one church from another decided to attend a church down the street from where she lived in her one room flat.
It was a large, imposing stone building. It attracted the who’s who of the city.
When the woman entered the church, she was overwhelmed by the beautiful art that decorated the naïve, the choir were all dressed in their finest. The music was like heaven itself she thought.
When the pastor entered the pulpit to preach, he spoke with such eloquence even the apostles would have gotten saved.
So overcome with excitement and emotion, the old woman broke out in a PRAISE JESUS!.
A tall, burly deacon approached her and guided her to the foyer. The woman, embarrassed, explained, she had only just found the Lord and was so excited to be in church.
The Old crusty board member replied, ‘well madam you didn’t find him here.
I don’t think there is a feeling in the world like the terror of a parent losing a child. Whether it is a few moments in a mall or in a playground, when a child becomes lost, the world and time stops.
There is nothing that you or I as a parent will do to find a lost child. No expense is spared. There is no stone unturned.
Think of what the Father went through when HE sent His Son to this planet to seek and save a humanity who for the most part, did not realize it was lost and did not even care.
And yet, the Bible says so great was the Saviors love for us that even while we were yet sinners, He still died for us.
This was Jesus’ sole mission, to seek and to save the lost.
To illustrate the Fathers love for you and I, Jesus told three familiar and powerful parables. The first parable is about a lost sheep and the shepherd who goes out to rescue it. The second parable is about a lost coin and the woman who searched frantically for it. The third story is called the Prodigal Son and is the most familiar of the three. It’s about a son who becomes lost to his father.
The traditional way to preach this passage is to interpret the parables individually. Each parable is one part of a singular story. It is the story of God the Fathers intense love for each of us.
These three parables reveal the Fathers heart and how he rejoices when the lost are found and the wayward return home.
Chapter 15 begins with this: “Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”
This is what prompts Jesus to tell three parables that highlight God’s extreme grace--the Pharisees’ extreme ungrace.
In essence, Jesus is saying, “You think you know God, but you do not. God doesn’t play by your rules. Here is what God is all about.”
Jesus was doing what he did best ¬ eating lunch and explaining the things of God. He was teaching the people He loved best ¬ the outcasts. Jesus hung out with dishonest businessmen, crooked politicians, and brazen prostitutes who could have cared less about the religious rules of the day. This verse specifically identifies the “tax collectors.” These were Jews that had turned against their own country and collected taxes for the Roman government that occupied Palestine. They extorted money from their fellow countrymen and got rich doing so. For this they paid a heavy price. Tax collectors were excluded from the religious community and shunned by most respectable Jews.
Tax collecting was treasonous and deserving of death. But in Jesus they found a friend. In fact, Jesus had chosen a tax collector who He renamed Matthew to be part of His mentoring group of disciples. These men, along with the dregs of Jewish society, were drawn to hear Jesus speak. Jesus went further than just teaching them, He ate with them. To associate with these people was bad enough, but to eat with them was outrageous! The original meaning of our word companion means “with bread.” To eat with someone was a sign to all of your friendship with that person. Jesus drove the religious leaders crazy!
But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Now before we are too hard on these guys, remember that they were the “good” guys. They championed the Word of God. They were interested in holiness and many had a sincere desire for pleasing God. There was just one problem.