Luke 15:1-10 Year C Trinity 14/Proper 19

Put the following scriptures on separate pieces of paper and "hide" them round the church with 'blu tack'. Before and/or at the start of the service have a "treasure hunt". See who finds the most scriptures and who can identify the theme that links them which is seeking lost "things".

Luke 15:1-10 Year C Trinity 14/Proper 19

Some of you will know that I used to work in insurance. People who have car accidents are asked to summarize exactly what happened on their insurance claim form. The following is a quote taken from a form, although not one that I dealt with ! "Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have."

Today's parables are not just about the lost, but also about the one who finds and rescues them.

In Luke 15 Jesus tells these parables, and the one of the forgiving father, also known as the prodigal son, for a reason. This was to show the desire of God to seek and save those who are lost. This contrasts with the religious leaders who were too busy trying to keep themselves separated from these people.

The religious leaders condemned Jesus for not only attracting unsavoury people but drawing close to them. Welcoming them. Eating a meal with them which was a way of showing acceptance of someone in this culture. "Tax collectors and sinners" was a dismissive title given by the Pharisees. Tax collectors were considered as the lowest of the low. Even treasonous. They collected taxes for the occupying Roman government. They made their money by charging more than they should. Those labelled "sinners" did not take any part in the Jewish religious life and practices.

These parables show the importance of sinners to God. The fact that such people follow Jesus, rather than the religious leaders of the day is a reversal of what we should expect. It is a reminder that those who want to listen to Jesus may come from surprising places.

Jesus used the picture of sheep farming several times as this was familiar to his listeners. Sheep were valuable and used for meat and wool. A flock of 100 was a good size, and at the end of each day the owner would count his sheep to make sure that they were all there. One day he counts 99. Perhaps a neighbour looked after the other sheep when the owner retraced his steps. Calling out. Listening for the missing sheep bleating. He finds the sheep at long last. It is weak and distressed. The owner puts it on his shoulders, goes home and rejoices with his friends and family.

The emphasis of this parable is the contrast between the one lost sheep and the 99 . It shows the grace or undeserved favour of God in leaving 99 to look for 1. Verse 7 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.

The irony of this is that although the Pharisees and teachers of the law considered themselves righteous they were not good enough for God. They needed Jesus because they needed to be saved . The tax collectors and sinners were in no doubt that they did not deserve to be rescued. But, the shepherd did not rescue the one sheep because it was more woolly, more cute, or cleverer than the 99. He rescued him because he was lost. God sent Jesus to rescue us because we were lost, not because we deserve rescuing.

My father-in-law recently went into the Birthdays Greetings card shop in the 'Freeport' shopping mall where they have five cards for a pound. He didn't look very closely at one which he thought was an Anniversary card. When he got it home we discovered that it was a card that a groom gives to his bride on their wedding day, something that happened 45 years ago ! He hadn't looked very carefully

The woman in the parable did look carefully. She had lost one of ten silver coins. These would have been worn around her headdress and been her dowry. Each of them was worth about a days wages. More than £50 today. She realised that it is lost in the home which would have been dark, with a small window or two. She would have lit a lamp, swept the floor, listening for the sound of a coin on the floor, looking carefully. The emphasis in this parable is in the careful and thorough way that she searches for this lost coin. Like the other parable there is rejoicing by friends and family when it is found.

In each parable there are five steps. So it's five steps to heaven not three steps to heaven !

Step 1. The lost. The lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, the lost tax collectors and sinners.

We have a world full of people who are lost. Some of them know it. Perhaps those that do are nearer being rescued. Many do not. We need to reach these people, as individuals and as a church to show them that without Jesus they are lost.

Step two, looking. The sheep owner looked. The woman looked. God took the initiative by sending Jesus to earth. To reveal God to us. To put us right with God by dying in our place on a cross. God has made the first move. He is looking for people right now.

Do we look for those who are lost ?

If we really looked we would not have to look far.

Step three, finding. The owner found the sheep. The woman found the coin. Jesus found us. We can find people who are lost and need Jesus. But we also need to pray and ask for Jesus to show us who he wants us to find. To put people in our way and give us the opportunity to show the love of Jesus to them. Through what we do and are. Through what we say.

Step four, repenting.

This is implied because each parable ends with the words 'one sinner who repents'. The word repent means to change ones mind in the Greek. It is referring to a deliberate change of direction. From going our own way, to going God's way. A U-turn.

The sheep couldn't repent. The coin couldn't repent. But sinners, and that means everybody, can. Indeed it is essential if we are to become a follower of Jesus.

Step five, rejoicing.

There is rejoicing in heaven when someone is rescued by Jesus. As those who have been rescued by Jesus let us follow his example. Take the initiative. Reach out to those who are lost. Do all that we can to rescue them through Jesus. And rejoice when they are saved.

Roger Storms, pastor of First Christian Church in Chandler, Arizona, tells his story: "One Sunday, a car had broken down in the alley behind our facilities, and the driver had jacked up the car and crawled underneath to work on the problem. Suddenly, we heard him scream for help. The jack had slipped, and the car had come down on top of him.

"Someone shouted, 'Call 9-1-1!'" and a couple of people ran for the phone. Several of our men gathered around the large car and strained to lift it off the trapped man. Nurses from our congregation were rounded up and brought to the scene. Somehow the men were able to ease the car's weight off the man, and he was pulled free. Our nurses checked him over. He was scratched up and shaken, but otherwise okay.

"When this man was in peril, people did all they could to help - risking themselves, inconveniencing themselves. Whatever was necessary to save this man, they were ready to try. How we need this same attitude when it comes to rescuing those in greatest peril - the danger of losing life eternally!"


WebSTAT - Free Web Statistics