Based on Luke chapter 15
Lost and Found
Lots of different people came to see Jesus, even the most despised people in the land like the treacherous tax collectors – who worked for the Romans against their own people. The lowest of the low came to Jesus, and much to the outrage of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, Jesus welcomed them, tax collectors and notorious sinners alike, even at times sharing a meal with them! (PAUSE)
The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law thought this behaviour of Jesus was disgraceful! Surely, knowing how evil these people were, He should be condemning them for their wickedness, not eating with them in their houses! And so they complained to Jesus that He was associating with such despicable people! (PAUSE – SIGH)
The simple truth was that the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law had misunderstood what Jesus was doing! He wasn’t saying that their evil behaviour was acceptable! Far from it! But to help the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law understand what was happening, He told them these stories. (PAUSE)
‘Tell me,’ He began. ‘If you had 100 sheep, and for some reason one of those precious sheep got lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the other 99 in a safe place and go and hunt high and low for the lost sheep until you found it? And when you’d found it, wouldn’t you carry it joyfully back home on your shoulders? Then, when you’d arrived back home you’d call your friends and neighbours to come over and celebrate the safe return of the lost sheep with you. Well, in the same way, there will be more happiness in heaven over the return of one lost sinner who comes back to God than over 99 others who’re righteous and have never strayed.’
‘Or how about this,’ He continued. ‘Suppose a woman has ten valuable coins and somehow loses one of them! Won’t she light a lamp and search in every corner of her house and sweep out even the smallest areas as she carefully searches for it? And when she finds it, won’t she call together her friends and neighbours to rejoice with her because - after a long search she’s found her lost coin! Well, in the same way, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who turns from their sin!’
Still not sure that the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law had understood the point He was trying to make, Jesus told them one last story: ‘There was a man who had two sons. One day the younger son said to his father, ‘I don’t want to wait! Give me my portion of your estate that I’d inherit when you die - now.’ The father agreed and divided his wealth between his two sons.’
‘A few days later the younger son packed up all his belongings and headed out for a distant land, and when he got there he spent all his money on wild living! (P) At about the same time as all his money ran out, a severe famine swept over the land and he began to starve. Looking for work, he managed to persuade a local farmer to hire him to feed his - pigs.’ As Jesus said this, a murmur swept around the crowd, a Jewish boy, feeding unclean pigs – could he fall any lower? But Jesus continued, ‘The boy was so hungry that he even thought about filling his own stomach with the pods he was feeding to the pigs. But no one gave him anything.’ Another round of shocked murmurs. Not only was this boy feeding unclean pigs; now he’d fallen so low he even thought about eating their food!
Jesus carried on, ‘When at long last he finally came to his senses, the boy said to himself, ‘Back home even the hired men have more than enough food, and here I am starving to death! I shall go home to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and against you, and I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Please, take me on as a hired servant.’’
‘So the young lad got up and started on the long walk home. But while he was still a long way from home, his father saw him coming. Filled to overflowing with love and compassion, the father ran to his son and gave him a great big hug and kiss.’...