Jesus is challenged in Luke 15 as to why he spends so much time with disreputable people. In this sermon we see how God seeks and rejoices in finding the lost. Preached in the Parish of the North Peace September 11, 2022
These may be the most familiar parables in the bible. May God give us ears to hear them, and plant his Word in our hearts.
The question Jesus is answering is this: You’re supposed to be religious leader like us, an example like us, to show the people how to be God’s people, how to be good and righteous citizens of God’s kingdom Israel. What are you doing associating yourself with those who don’t have it all together, what are you doing eating and drinking with them. Stay away from bad influences. Come and sit with us close to power and influence.
And Jesus responds: you don’t understand what it is to be God’s kingdom, you don’t know what that kingdom is like let me tell you…
And he tells them in a parable. A parable is narrative exposition of the kingdom of God that both reveals and conceals a heavenly mystery. It is a prophetic speech that performs something in those who hear. So let us hear.
It is a human thing, to seek out fiercely that which is precious and lost. Sure its great to have 99 good sheep, but if you have lost one of your own you will seek it out fervently. Sheep, when they get lost are utterly helpless. They don’t try to find their way back to the heard. They freeze up and wait to be found, by a predator by their master, whichever finds them. That’s you. You are utterly helpless to find your way home. That’s me, vulnerable on my own until I am found by the one who seeks his own.
This is what the kingdom of heaven is like says Jesus, this is what the king of heaven is like, he fiercely seeks out his lost sheep, wanting to find them before they are destroyed, entering himself into the wilderness where they are lost. This is what the king of heaven is like, who takes great joy when he is able to lift a lost sheep up upon his shoulders and carry him home. For when they return there is a great celebration and great rejoicing.
One of my wardens in Comox made a big deal about this, he kept telling me: Faith is only a journey for God, the rest of us are carried on his shoulders. He hated it when people were asked to talk about their spiritual or faith journey, because that’s not how it is between us and God, not really, not at bottom. We muddle about pathetically in the wilderness. And then in spite of ourselves we are carried back through the wilderness we have wander in, hoisted up into a new reality.
Hear the words of our Lord: 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. Do you hear this? Do you hear that the turning of your heart, the loving of the things you ought to love, the turning from the things you ought to turn to, the communion with God you have been lifted into, these are the great joy of our Father, he does not want stoics with perfect records, he wants the lost who are now found in him. He wants us to be found in his joy.
In case the first parable doesn’t answer the question, of why Jesus the Word of God, Son of the Father, is eating and drinking with outcasts and sinners he tells another one. A parable of a young woman who has lost a silver coin. She has other silver coins but having lost one that is all she can think of, she overturns her whole home in order to find the one she lost. And finding it she rejoices.
In other words: This is a true saying, worthy of all to be received, that Christ Jesus Came into the world to save sinners.-1 Timothy 1:15
That is what Jesus is doing in his incarnation, in his ministry. He is entering the wilderness and the muck to bring his children home out of the wilderness and the muck. He is seeking those who cannot save themselves and cannot find him on their own. We cannot make ourselves believe. We should keep knocking and asking for it if we have not found it, but the reason we need to knock and ask is because faith is a gift, a gift given by a Good Shepherd. And he came into the world that he might gather us to himself. He came into the world to seek the depraved and the hopeless, and give them hope. He overturns his house, to find a lost coin. He abandons his flock, to gather again the one who is lost. This is the God we worship. This is the kingdom we are coming into. May we have hearts remade to receive, may we rejoice together with the angels when the lost are found.
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