God’s Relentless Pursuit

9.15.13

Sunday Sermon Audio:

Sunday Sermon Notes:

God’s Relentless Pursuit – a study of Luke 15:1-10

A crowd gathered around Jesus made up of different kinds of people.  Traitors,  Sinners,  Pharisees,  and Teachers of the Law gather to hear the teachings of Jesus. They’ve all got their agenda, which is evident when some of them begin to mutter about the welcome that Jesus offers the sinners. Not only that, but he actually eats with those unworthy wretches. In response to these accusations Jesus tells three familiar stories. There is the one about the lost sheep, one about a lost coin, and the most familiar – a lost son. This lesson centers on the first two.

These stories contain similarities … common themes.

*Both Lost Items are very important. The One Sheep is important. If you have 100 Sheep and lose one of them, how many sheep do you have? This sounds like one of those math problems in school I could never figure out. If we were in school the answer would be 127 due to some technical equation I do not know about. But in this parable it’s straight math. 99 sheep sound like enough, but not to the shepherd. In the New Testament world sheep are wealth, status, barter, temple sacrifice …. every one counts.  In the same way the The One Coin was important to the woman. A day’s wages is a lot of money. Perhaps it is her rent, or a savings for something she really needs. It could be a dowry. In both stories, the lost item is very important to the owner.

*Both Lost Items are Worth A Thorough Search. To me, 99 sheep is enough. Why bother about the one… that might even be a pretty good retention rate. To the shepherd, however, the one lost is worth going into the wilderness to find. As for the coin, I can tell that the coin is worth the search because the woman lights a lamp in the dim room and begins searching every corner. In both stories, there is a determination to find what was lost.

*Both Lost Items are found because of the diligence of the Finder. This is not a story with a sad ending. Both of them find what they were looking for. The lost sheep is found and put on the shoulder of the Shepherd for the journey home. Isn’t that a tender and beautiful feature of this story?  The woman finally found her coin. Do you know where she found it? In the last place she looked. Isn’t that just the way things go?

*Both Lost Items, When Found, Inspire Celebrations. They Both call their friends. They both call for celebration and rejoicing.

These common elements are not just parts of a story but they demonstrate the beautiful concern that God has for all lost people.

*You Are All Very Important to God!  God in these parables is the Shepherd, the woman, and the Father.  Would God search the wilderness for you?  Would God search under the furniture and in the dark corners inside a home for you? He not only would, He did.

*You Are Worth A Thorough Search to God!  Think back in your life … what did God have to do to save you? What sins did He have to forgive? What people did He have to place in your life? What price did He have to pay to bring you home?

*You are Here Because of the Diligence of the Finder. If you were God, would you have given up on you?  How many of us are grateful God never has given up on us?

*Your Repentance is Worthy of a Heavenly Celebration!  Verse 7, 10

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. … 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. ~Luke 15:7, 10

What does a celebration in heaven look like? Do you think it is grander than anything we can do here on earth?

Notice again the groups gathered that Jesus is talking to: traitors, sinners, Pharisees, teachers of the law.  Which of those four groups are worthy of a search and rescue from God? All of them are.

Which of them are ‘righteous persons who do not need to repent?’ None of them are. There are only those who THINK they do not need to repent.

The Great Finder wants to find all of these souls and incite a glorious celebration in heaven.

Traitors, Sinners, Pharisees, Teachers of the law – those who have missed the mark in every way. Whichever you most identify with, there are truths that ring through these stories.

You are worth saving – to the only one who can save you. All of heaven is interested in your response to Jesus.

This is the testimony of the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

What does that say about God’s relentless pursuit of you…A sinner in need of repentance?  Will you be found by God today? He is relentlessly pursuing you.

Thanks for reading

John
      

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