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And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

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Lost and Found


The passage:  Luke 15: 1-10

These two parables of the lost sheep and the lost coins are quite tricky. They sort of seem like normal situations, but the more you think about them, the harder it is to see them as just ordinary every-day scenarios  The context seems clear:   religious people are annoyed that Jesus is a friend to sinners, and is even eating with them.  He was breaking the religious holiness rules by doing this.

Jesus then tells three parables, apparently, to the Pharisees.  The first two are shorter, and our focus today is on them. The third is the famous Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Well of course a good shepherd would want to find a lost sheep, and a woman would want to find her lost silver coin. Of course they would take the necessary steps to get them back.  But in both cases the partying is surely beyond the bounds of normality.  Even the thought of carrying a 70kg sheep for a long distance on one's shoulders seems incredible to me.  Why not just walk it back with your shepherd's crook? 

And what about the 99 sheep who seem to have drifted off into the wilderness with no-one to look after them?  Wouldn't you feel a bit 'sheepish' for having left them alone?  Actually the 99 are still very much in mind in the story – for their absence – because the punch-line is about the fact that there is more joy in heaven over the one than the 99.

And what about holding a party because you loose a coin and then find it again?  If I did that every time I lost something I'd have to turn into an official party animal 24/7.

These expressions of joy seem extravagant and beyond what is normal or reasonable.  One thing we can be sure of, and that is that this is completely intentional on Jesus' part: he was wanting to really make the Pharisees uncomfortable about God's love for the lost.  Heaven's restlessness over the lost is so great it is beyond human telling.  It is so great that Jesus explains it through the JOY that results when the One is found.

This heavenly joy is not something I want to be missing out on.  How about you?  Would you be willing to let God's passion for the lost become your passion as well?  So that when the party starts, you can enjoy all the action to the fullest?

Questions

1. When was the last time you did something really outrageously over-the-top to show someone how much you love them?

2. Have you ever strayed away from faith in God?  What did it take to get you back?

3. What do you think the tax collectors and sinners are thinking and feeling while they are listening to Jesus?  What about the Pharisees?

4. What might be the cost to share God's passion for the lost?

5. What does heaven's happiness over a sinner who repents tell us about God's heart?

6. If you had been there, listening to Jesus on that day, and you had the chance to follow up with the Pharisees, how would you have summarised Jesus' message to them in one sentence?

                                


Luke 15: 1-10

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

 So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

 â€˜Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

Copyright © 2015 Mark Durie, All rights reserved.


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