Peninsula Community Church
Lost and Found
August 16, 2015
Rather than reading one singular passage of scripture today, I will be reviewing the entire chapter before us and then we will go back over the next couple of weeks to study the chapter with particular emphasis on the parable of the Prodigal Son. I have entitled this series “Lost and Found” as that is the emphasis of each of the parables presented here.
With that in mind let us look at a couple of things. First of all to understand this passage and the reasoning behind these parables we must look at the first verse of chapter 15. Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” The Pharisees and the Scribes of Jesus were upset with the actions of Jesus. How could He do such a thing? Didn’t He know He should follow the rules and hold those who were sinners at a distance.
But the Pharisees and the Scribes had a problem in understanding the mission of Jesus. It was the usual problem that raised its ugly head when they were around Jesus. The real character of the Pharisees and Scribes seemed to be revealed when they encountered Jesus’ new way of doing things. They loved to corner Jesus and try to get Him to make a mistake or appear to discredit God’s law. Why is this? For one, the Pharisees and Scribes loved control. They loved to be in charge and have the position of authority. To accomplish this they had to discredit others who seemed to be gaining control and for that reason that they posed the questions they did. They also loved rules. They loved to make rules for others to follow and would be quick to judge and condemn those who were not following the rules. They also loved to argue over the rules. They loved to argue and debate the Scripture, not to find truth but to simply to debate and argue.
But, Jesus being the greater person, answered them as He often did. Instead of answering their question directly, He used the art of story telling or parables to get His point across. He preceded to tell them three stories. The first was the story of the shepherd who had lost one of his sheep. Even though he had 99 sheep safely in the fold, it was critical for him to go and find that one sheep that was lost. It is noteworthy that his search for the lost sheep is a persistent one. In fact, Jesus noted that the shepherd searched until he found the lost sheep. He did not give up.
The second story is that of a woman who had lost a coin. She had ten coins but one of the coins had been lost. In the story, Jesus states that she stopped everything she was doing; she lit a lamp and then she swept the house thoroughly until the coin was found. Jesus uses the word diligently to describe her search as she was focused and determined to find the lost coin.
In the third story, Jesus tells the story of a man who had two sons. One of the sons decided that he was ready to go out on his own. So, he asked his father for his inheritance which he gave to the son. It was not too long before the son had squandered everything he had and was found in the pig pen feeding the pigs. It was at this point that the son made a discovery. The food he was feeding the pigs was actual better than the food he was eating and the food served the servants of his father’s home was much better than the pigs were being served. It is in this moment of realization that the son decides to return home where the father welcomes him with open arms.
As we look at these three stories, we see that there are common threads in them. First, we see something was lost. Whether it was a sheep, a coin, or a son; there was something that was lost and needed to be found. Each of the items lost were valuable to the one who owned them and that is why they diligently searched for the lost item.
The second thread here is that something was found. In each case that which was lost was found. And in the case of the lost son, the father proclaimed that which had been dead is now alive. Each of those who owned the item lost was diligent about searching and looking until the item was found. They did not give up. They did not lose hope.
The third thread here is that the individual who lost the item rejoiced over finding the lost item. They were overwhelmed with the fact they had found that which was lost, and they wanted everyone to celebrate with them so they threw a party. The lost item had been a big deal and it was even a bigger deal to find the item.
The fourth thread here is that each person made a declaration of praise. They proclaimed, that which was lost is now found. They are saying I lost something valuable but now I have gained it back. They were so excited about finding their lost items they could not keep it to themselves. They wanted to let everyone know what had transpired and celebrate the good news of salvation.
So what are the lessons for us in these stories. The first lesson is that God is concerned about those who are lost in our lives. In this case, we are not talking coins or sheep but the lives of those we are associated with. It is those individuals that God has placed in our path. God loves the lost and desires to see them found. You see this discussion began by the Pharisees and Scribes being critical of Jesus having dinner with the sinners and yet that it is precisely what Jesus is communicating. Rather than judge their behavior we need search after them in order to see them come to Christ.
The second lesson is that that God rejoices when the lost are found. He is so excited that He throws a party as in the the story of the prodigal son. In both the parable of the coins and the sheep Jesus proclaims that heaven and the angels rejoice over one sinner that repents and changes his ways. Jesus says there is joy in one sinner coming to Christ. In other words, He is saying “why do I sit with sinners and have dinner with them?” It is because it brings joy to heaven when they repent and that is my motive above all else.
The third lesson, and this is the best one of all, God wants us to celebrate with Him and the angels of heaven when sinners repent. He wants us to experience the joy of one that was lost coming to a saving grace of God. He wants us to have a party when one comes to know Him by repenting and changing their ways. This is why I love to do water baptisms as a celebration and a party as it is a sign of what God has done in a life.
The fourth lesson is that God restores that which was lost. In each case, the item lost was restored to its rightful place. It was not a matter of deserving the place of restoration but it was none-the-less restored to right relationship. Since the creation and fall of mankind the great struggle has been the need and desire to be restored to right relationship to God.
With all of that said we must recognize that we have a part to play in this just as the other actors did. First, of all we must recognize that we are the church. If you are a born again, saved individual then you are a part of the church. You see one of the things we fail to do sometimes is realize that we are the church. We don’t come to church we are the church and when we leave here on Sunday, we as the church go into the community. We should be the church everyday, on our jobs, in our schools, and in our families. We never stop being the church. And as the church we should be seeking and saving the lost.
The second thing here is that while we must be the church, we must also recognize that we are all missionaries. For some time in the church we have tended to define missionaries as those who have been set apart to go to some foreign country to do missions. This is a false concept of the idea presented by Jesus prior to His departure. Jesus last words were these. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20). The essence of this passage is that we are all missionaries. We have all been called to win the lost and make disciples.
The third thing here is that we need to seek that which is lost. We must identify the lost in our lives and then seek God on ways that we can go after them. Notice that Jesus’ command was to go to them. Now I believe that we ought to be inviting everyone to church whether they are saved or not, but an invitation to church is not evangelism. We need to identity the lost in our lives and then diligently seek after them to find them and then share the life of Christ with them. We need to have dinner with them, play golf with them, go fishing and so on so that we have a entry way into their lives. Then we can connect the dots between our testimony, Christ, and their lives.
When they are found and they repent we need to have a party and celebrate this exciting development. We need to make a big deal out those who come to know Christ. We need to celebrate their new found faith. We need to encourage them to be baptized in water so we can throw a party and see them give testimony for what God’s grace.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom