Summary: God invites us to share his joy when someone who was lost, is found.
Title: When Do Religious People Whoop It Up?
Text: Luke 15:1-10
Thesis: God invites us to share his joy when someone who was lost, is found.
Have you ever lost something you really treasured… something you would really like to find?
After reading the text for today, I thought of a couple of things that I have lost over the years that I valued and wish I could find.
I thought of a steel-wheeled tractor toy I lost while playing farmer in our windbreak at our farm in southern Madison County Iowa. It was an old cast iron tractor with cast iron wheels and a cast-iron man sitting on the seat. It was old and unpainted even then… I looked and looked, but I never found it.
And, I thought of my senior high school class ring. I had saved my money so I could order the nice one… it was gold with an emerald colored stone. One sunny afternoon I went swimming in a farm pond with some friends and placed the ring in my shirt pocket so I would not loose it. At one point, I waded across the pond to put my clothes on the other side and somewhere along the way, the ring fell out of my pocket. I don’t know if it is lost on either side or somewhere in the pond… I never found it.
I’ve been thinking lately of going up to Sports Authority and buying one of their Bounty Hunter metal detectors and going back to Iowa to try to find my lost tractor-toy and my class ring. Though it may seem insignificant to most folks… finding either of those two things would make me very happy.
If I were to find my little tractor, I would bring it home and show it to Bonnie. I would call the kids and when they came, I would show them my treasure. I would show it to my grandchildren and tell them how I used to play with it when I was their age. I would put it on a shelf… perhaps on the mantle of our fireplace.
If I were to find my class ring, I would probably put it in my top dresser drawer…
Our text today speaks to what it means to loose something and then find it. It comes to us in parabolic form. A parable is sometimes defined as an earthly story with a heavenly (or spiritual) meaning. We have read two of three parables that are linked together as:
1. The parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:3-7, speaks of a shepherd who looses one of 100 sheep.
2. The Parable of the lost coin in Luke 15:8-10, speaks of a woman who looses one of 10 coins.
3. And the parable of the lost son in Luke 15:11-32, speaks of a man who looses one of two sons. You know it as the parable of the prodigal son.
This whole scenario of parabolic teaching is precipitated by the events described in Luke 15:1-2.
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such despicable people – even eating with them!
This is not the first time Jesus had to deal with this bone of contention. The first time it happened, the religious folks were complaining to Jesus, “Why do you and drink with such scum?” Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from t heir sins, not spend my time with those who think they are already good enough.” (Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17, and Luke 5:27-32)
Isn’t it interesting how the text juxtaposes the two groups of people in our text? We have the notorious sinners who are listening to Jesus. And we have the religious leaders complaining to Jesus.
So Jesus used these stories or parables to illustrate some truth.
We’ve just read the stories. A man had 100 sheep and one gets lost. So he leaves the 99 and searches until he finds the lost sheep. Upon returning, he calls his friends and neighbors to come and celebrate the recovery of the lost sheep.
Similarly, a woman looses one of her 10 coins. So she turns the house upside down looking for it. And, when she finds it, she calls in her friends and neighbors to celebrate the recovery of the lost coin.
I want to focus on the emphases I see emerging from out text. The first emphasis I wish to make is this:
I. God is concerned about restoring relationships with people who are lost.
• …one of the sheep strayed away and was lost in the wilderness. Luke 15:4