March 26th Luke, 15
15v1-7 The Lost Sheep
1: Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2: And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3: And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4: What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5: And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6: And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7: I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
15v8-10 The Lost Coin
8: Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9: And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10: Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
15v11-32 The Lost Son
11: And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13: And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14: And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15: And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16: And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17: And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18: I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19: And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20: And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21: And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22: But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25: Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26: And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27: And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28: And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29: And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31: And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32: It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Is it the publicans and sinners that are attracted to your Church? If not then something is out of tune with Christ’s ministry. Christ did not get along at all with the religious leaders! But the prostitutes and the low life loved him. Why was that? I can only think of one reason. He loved them. People are attracted by love. When the religious leaders complained about Christ’s company, did he change? Did he withdraw from the common people? – No of course not. Christ gave us a parable in three parts to explain why he reached out to sinners. The first story is of sheep that had gone astray. The second is of a precious coin lost and the third is of a lost son. Now none of this has got anything to do with being saved! It’s all about restoration. The sheep the coin and the father’s boy were returned to the rightful owner. The reason why we call them lost is because they were previously the possession of the owner. What l would like to draw attention to is not the lost but the hero of the story. The hero is not the sheep the coin or the prodigal. The hero is the shepherd, the woman and the Father. When the shepherd came home he called the other shepherds to say rejoice with me. Why? ‘For I have found my sheep which was lost’. This story is not about the sheep it’s about the shepherd and of his joy in finding the lost sheep. Now what does the woman who has lost her coin do when she found it? She calls her friends and neighbours saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Then Christ says something interesting. He says - I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Now this is not about the joy of salvation it’s the joy of repentance – the joy of restoration. And you will notice that Christ does not say that the angels are joyful! He says there is joy IN THE PRESENCE of the angels. So who is joyful? God. He is the one full of Joy. And if God is full of Joy can you now see why Christ preached to Israel Repent? God was calling on Israel to return to Him. To change their minds and come home to him. And when they did Heaven rang with the shouts of joy in the heart of God. Lastly, we have the story of the man who had two sons. It’s not just about the Prodigal nor even just about his brother its about the Father. A certain MAN had two sons. It’s about restoration to the father after backsliding. The father had two sons that were far away from him – in heart. The youngest went away and the far country was sent a famine to bring him home. Notice what it says. And when he came to himself. This is repentance. A realisation that he had taken the wrong path followed by a resolution to return. I will arise and go to my father, Followed by confession - will say unto him, Father, I have sinned. However the story as l said is not about the boy it’s the story of a man who had two boys. Will you notice it says, the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: Why did the father ask the servants to eat and be merry with him? Nobody else would rejoice with him. Nobody else could understand grace. And these servants though they don’t understand either at least they can rejoice in the fathers joy. So what was the part about the elder son all about? Well he was angry when he heard that his brother had returned. he was angry, and would not go in: The father justified his joy to his son he said - It was right (meet) that we should make merry, and be glad: The elder brother could not understand Grace and nobody else could understand grace except the Father and the prodigal. In the courts of heaven Joy rings out and the angels look on trying to understand the joy of the love of the Father when one of his children comes home. One other thing about the prodigal. When he came home he was destitute and unclean and smelly in the extreme. He had been looking after pigs! But, what did the Father do? He ran and threw his arms about his neck and kissed him. He didn’t wait for him to wash first. And so it is with our heavenly father when we as christians set out to return to him after backsliding he doesn’t wait until we have washed first or even made our confession. He throws his arms about us and kisses us.