Seeking the LostBro. David Chancellor
8/11/2002 6:00 PM
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
The publicans and sinners drew near to hear Jesus. The Pharisees and scribes didnt think very highly of Jesus outreach to sinners. Yet, if Jesus hadnt reached out then, hed not be reaching out today. It was the mission he came to accomplish, although it was unpopular. While there is a separation between Gods people and the world, these had carried it too far. God expects us to interact with sinners. There are three parables given in this chapter, spoken to a people who didnt see the importance of reaching out to sinners.
Parable 1 The Lost Sheep
And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 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? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 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. 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.
Jesus was speaking to them of something that they understood. They would go looking for the lost sheep. They wouldnt spend time keeping the ninety-nine. Ninety-nine just people dont change the outreach for the one that is lost. Even they would go after the one. Jesus was explaining that he was going after the ones that were lost. He wasnt offended that the sinners drew near. He was glad. We need to reach out to those that need God. Cause them to be hungry and thirsty for God. Befriend those that need God. Spend time with them. Be friendly and interact with others. These were offended that Jesus was being a friend to sinners. (Eating with others indicates friendship in most cultures.) Jesus tells in this parable how when the lost sheep was found, the one called his friends and they rejoiced together. There is joy in heaven for sinners that are brought home. Is our priority to reach the lost? Are we rejoicing over sinners who find God? Too many people are self-satisfied and not interested in reaching out to the lost. If the message is not going out, we shouldnt be satisfied with that arrangement.
Parable 2 The Lost Piece of Silver
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? 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. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
This woman had 10 pieces of silver. Jesus taught for both the men and the women. The women are not left out. The searching for the lost is always followed by rejoicing. We arent here to get pumped. When we focus on what God would have done and are effective at it, we can rejoice. Focus on helping one sinner find repentance. We meet to recharge our batteries, so that we can continue to seek out the lost. We are thankful when sinners come in because we hope that the association with Gods people and the gospel will have an affect. Theres rejoicing and the focus is on the sinner that received help. We can be saved because of a Savior who would rub shoulders with the lost ones of the world.
Parable 3 The Prodigal Son
And he said, A certain man had two sons: 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. 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. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 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! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 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. 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. 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: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 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. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 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: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 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.
Christ has another message here: As he describes the prodigal son, he describes a despicable character. He wanted to have his inheritance NOW. Many sinners want to live for now. The son wasted his inheritance on foolishness and on a despicable existence. He came to a place where he wanted the hog slop because it was better than what he had. Many sinners are living lower than the animals. We could feel that theyve brought it on themselves, and they very well may have. That may be our initial reaction. Christ then shows a picture of the son returning to the father. He pictures how God deals with sinners. Yet, he also wanted them to see the reaction of the older son. The father loves the sinner. Why shouldnt we great them with rejoicing when the sinner comes home? The older son wanted to know what was going on. Whyre we doing this for such a despicable rascal? This was the elder sons reaction. He didnt want to be part of the rejoicing. Christ was portraying for the scribes and Pharisees the attitude that they had toward sinners. God help us if we get this kind of an attitude. Greet the sinners; be friendly. This is what Jesus did. Regardless of how deep people have gone, they still need salvation. Be towards others as Christ would have you be. Treat them as Christ would. They may deserve the trouble theyre in, but that isnt Gods attitude toward them. The Father is waiting with open arms, whether we are or not. We dont want to have the attitude that the scribes and Pharisees had. The older son sounds like the Pharisee Jesus spoke of in the 18th chapter: I thank thee, Lord, that I am not as other men are. Our work is to reach the sinners, to reach out to the lost, to love the unlovable, or those that dont love us back. Its so that someday that soul will turn to God. Were called to show love to the sinner. Were not trying to make them feel like a child of God when they arent, but you can show them that you care. Show them that you love them. Christ ate with sinners to show the love and care and concern he had for them. When people draw near, dont draw back, so far as being caring and concerned goes. Dont put up a wall between yourself and others. God wouldnt have us to be that way. Its proper for us to reach out to the sinner, and to rejoice when the sinner finds God. There would be something wrong if we didnt rejoice when a lost one is found. The scribes and Pharisees were lost and needed to be found, too, even with the attitude that they had, but they were caught up in their religion. Christ didnt intend for us to pull off and hide somewhere. He wants us to reach out to others.
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
I have given them thy word The word of God will change the way that we live. When you endeavor to live right, some people wont like it. Theyll think youre trying to destroy all their fun. If we try to live godly, it may rain on their fun a bit. This doesnt mean that if people treat us hatefully, that well hate them back. In the world, people do that sort of thing. A child of God is called to love people anyway. God never intended that we would pull off and have our own little colony of Gods people. People have tried that before and failed. The pulling off doesnt make people pure. God didnt intend for us to pull off from the world. Jesus prayed that we would be kept from the evil. We interact with the world, so Christ prayed that we wouldnt be drawn away from God. The answer is not to draw back from the world, but to have someone to keep you from the evil. Ask God to keep you true and faithful. Christ had a concern for the sinners; he even went to the cross for them. He was put on the cross because of envy of his popularity, and because of the fact that he interacted with sinners. Were glad that he died to receive sinners. Christ died so that God might receive sinners. We need to be kept from the evil. God has provided a way that we could be kept.
1 John 4:4
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
All spirits are not of God. Try the spirits and see what the spirit is trying to produce in you. When you encounter wrong spirits, you dont have to succumb to them. Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. We dont do all the things the world does; yet, we dont have to fear being drawn away. There is a spirit that can be with us amongst a world of sinners and keep us true and faithful. Were to be that outreach of the gospel to a soul that is lost. Sinners may not be our bosom buddies, but we can interact with them and let them see God in us. They can see what God can do for them.
The message in all three parables in Luke is this: God is reaching out to sinners and we should as well. Our goal is to live before the sinner the very grace of God that is offered to them as well.