St Paul's UMC
September 11, 2022
  • Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (Nettleton)
  • Word Of God Speak
  • Doxology
      • 1 Timothy 1:12–17NIV2011

      • Luke 15:1–10NIV2011

  • Luke 19:10 ESV
    For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
    Church - I want you to speak that verse out loud with me.
    Luke 19:10 ESV
    For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
    One of the worst feelings I remember as a parent when my kids were little was when we went to some crowded place like a mall or a theme park and I would momentarily lose my child. It happened more than I’d like to admit. One minute, I knew where everyone was - and then I turn around it was like “Where’s John?” That panic would begin to arise, what if someone grabbed him? I would call out his name, scan the crowd, back up my steps - and eventually find him - usually with a panicked look on his face. I’d have to settle him down, play it cool and make sure Krista didn’t find out.
    There was tremendous relief when I found my child. All the fears quickly subsided. All was good and right in the world once more. Joy filled my heart - we could now have fun.
    You can hear that relief and that joy in today’s parable. This parable is made up of three back to back stories - two brief ones followed by a longer one (which we will hear soon) all with the same theme - although the third story we will see has a twist at the end. Each story has to do with something lost being sought after and when found - there is rejoicing.
    And as we move through this teaching, I want to keep pointing us back to Luke 19:10
    Luke 19:10 ESV
    For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
    At the center of this Jesus teaching is a core Christian doctrine - the doctrine of the Incarnation. Incarnation means that the eternal, Creator God assumed a human nature and became flesh. He became a man in the person of Jesus Christ - God with skin on. Fully God and fully man.
    Why did God do this?
    To seek and to save the lost.
    In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as lost is Apollymi (apole-ee-mee) and it carries with it a threat of imminent destruction - often referring to sinners doomed to perish unless they are rescued.
    The image comes to mind of a capsized vessel out at sea during a violent storm with all the occupants thrown overboard and thrashing in the water doomed to drown. They are unable to save themselves. Yet right when all appears to be lost, the Coast Guard search and rescue team arrives and begins plucking them out of the water.
    Left to our own devices and by our own power, we are all thrashing around in a sea of sin doomed to drown. We are in need of rescue - so God sent Jesus.
    The beginning of Chapter 15 sets the scene for this parable.
    Luke 15:1–2 ESV
    Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
    Jesus is attracting the wrong kind of people - at least in the eyes of the religious folks. The Pharisees saw it as their duty to keep Israel pure - to keep the people obedient to the purity laws that every Jew was to follow. If the people’s behavior was acceptable to God, then the nation would be blessed. If the people were not living according to the Law, the nation would be cursed. This narrow and strict adherence to the Law excluded quite a few people from table fellowship - people like tax collectors and sinners - you did not break bread with them, you did not hang out with them, you did not teach them.
    I’m sure the Pharisees would have pointed to Psalm 1:1,
    Psalm 1:1 ESV
    Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
    So you can imagine the conflict that would arise when they witness Jesus of Nazareth sitting among tax collectors and sinners, teaching them the ways of God, breaking bread with them.
    What was Jesus demonstrating that the Pharisees were unable to grasp?
    Compassion.
    Because God is a God of compassion,
    Luke 19:10 (ESV)
    ... the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
    Did Jesus, hanging out with the tax collectors and sinners, take on their behavior?
    Of course not.
    Did he seek the counsel of the wicked? No, he was counseling them.
    Jesus was on a search and rescue mission. He jumped out of the helicopter and right into the waters to save souls.
    The Pharisees did not recognize the mission - and so Jesus shares this parable.
    Luke 15:3–4 ESV
    So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
    We are given an image of Shepherd who would leave 99 to go and search for the one. Each and every sheep have great worth in his eyes - he will not rest until all are accounted for. He will risk everything to rescue the one.
    Those listening to Jesus that the day - the tax collectors, the sinners, the Pharisees, would have picked up on Shepherd language and connected it with the Lord. The metaphor of God as Shepherd is well established in the Bible. Psalm 23:1
    Psalm 23:1 ESV
    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    Isaiah 40:11 ESV
    He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
    Jesus takes on the role of God’s Shepherd and seeks out the lost sheep until he finds them. And when he does find the lost sheep - what does he do? He throws a party! He rejoices!
    Luke 15:7 ESV
    Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
    The joy of the occasion is not only due to the divine initiative of God to go, search and find the lost sinner, but that the sinner responds with repentance. There is a warning here for the Pharisees - we are all sinners in need of repentance, do not be quick to count yourself among the 99.
    Luke 15:8 ESV
    “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?
    Now we move from a Shepherd with a hundred sheep to a woman with ten silver coins. Each coin is a Greek drachma, which is equal to a day’s wages. And again, we have a diligent search - exploring every nook and cranny of her home - until she finally finds the coin that is missing.
    And again, there is a party!
    Luke 15:9–10 ESV
    And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
    There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
    There is a party in heaven each time a sinner on earth is found and repents. Praises are being sung by heavenly beings. The Lord is rejoicing.
    That is the attitude in heaven - so it should be on earth.
    Matthew 6:10 ESV
    Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
    The reason I keep wanting us to return to Luke 19:10
    Luke 19:10 ESV
    For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
    …is to remind us that this is the primary mission of Jesus and it must remain ours as well. We are to go and seek the lost, diligently, and lead them back into the fold of the Shepherd. We are to rejoice - to celebrate - when one person repents and is saved.
    The primary purpose of the Church is to go and seek and save the lost. Not fill the pews, that should be a natural outgrowth. It is to seek, save and rejoice.
    Which brings us to the final story in this parable.
    Luke 15:11–32 ESV
    And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
    The twist in this last story is the reaction of the older brother. Upon hearing of his younger brother’s return, he condition of his heart is exposed. He does not even consider him a brother
    Luke 15:30 ESV
    But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’
    In fact, he does not even address his father as father.
    Luke 15:29 ESV
    but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
    The father’s love for both his sons has never wavered - even when rejected and treated wrongly.
    Luke 15:31 ESV
    And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
    The older brother, of course, represents the Pharisees. Those who have faithfully served God in his Temple. Those who have dedicated themselves to living righteous lives. Those who try so hard to do what is right in expectation that they will be included at God’s table when the days of this age come to an end.
    I hope we hear Jesus’ warning and invitation to them because so often - those of us who have been raised in the faith, those who claimed the name Christian and belong to the Church, harden ourselves to tax collectors and sinners. We encounter people who clearly don’t know the Lord and it shows - and we steer clear. We may pass someone on the street caught up in addiction and we shake our head and quickly pass judgment. We hear of a group of kids fighting or being destructive and we blame the system, the schools, the parents - and we stay clear.
    Jesus says soften your hearts. Practice compassion. Seek after the lost. Give them hope. Rejoice when you see me rescuing them - join in on the party! Include your lost brothers and sisters at the table.
    Remember, everything I have belongs to you. Rejoice with me as we bring the dead to life - when the lost are found. Follow me.
    Amen.
      • Luke 19:10NIV2011

      • Luke 19:10NIV2011

      • Luke 19:10NIV2011

      • Luke 15:1–2NIV2011

      • Luke 15:3–4NIV2011

      • Isaiah 40:11NIV2011

      • Matthew 6:10NIV2011

      • Luke 19:10NIV2011

      • Luke 15:29NIV2011

  • The Lion And The Lamb
      • Philippians 4:7NIV2011

Let us get to know you!

Please take a moment to send us your information so that we may stay connected with you. Your information is carefully managed and protected.
I am a:
Age:
How did you hear about us?