Text: Luke 15:1-32
Have you ever lost something really valuable?
How do you feel in that moment?
For me its my keys. You know how it goes. You head out to the garage, you’re already running late for the big meeting, and…you can’t find the keys. Your heart starts to race. What do you do?
You start tearing the house apart, right? Nothing is more important in that moment than finding that key.
Then, how do you feel when you find it?
Take a moment right now, grab a piece of paper, you can pause the video if you want, and write down the emotions you feel in that moment.
My guess is that the words you wrote down are basically like throwing a party in your mind.
Hold on to those emotions. I want you to keep them right in front of you for the next few moments.
In our text today, we continue our series on The Narrow Way by looking at three stories Jesus tells about some things that are lost and found, much like my story of the lost keys.
I have to be honest. When I first read the stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin, I was a little confused.
I mean, come on, the shepherd has 100 sheep, why is he so excited over losing one? He’s got ninety-nine more, doesn’t he?
The woman has ten silver coins. Why is she so worked up about losing one? She has nine more?
It’s not like my lost keys. Those were my only keys. I HAD to find them.
Then I got thinking more about the sheep and the coin.
It’s kind of like when you are an adult sponsor on a youth mission trip. I’ve done this many times. The first thing you learn to do is a head count.
“OK, we came with 23 students, we want to leave with 23 students…and preferably the same 23 we left with.” Parents appreciate that.
Let’s say we took these 23 students to a state park and suddenly one of them was missing, we wouldn’t say, “Oh that’s OK, we’ve got 22 really quality kids right here. Easy come, easy go.”
Of course not!
We would call the police. We’d scour the countryside. We’d put out an Amber Alert. We’d do whatever it takes to find that lost kid.
Because they matter.
They deserve to be found.
Now, let me ask you this question.
Is there someone in your life, from your past, who you would say doesn’t deserve to be found.
In fact, they deserve to be forgotten.
Who is that person that hurt you deeply?
Who is that person, that when their name is spoken, something triggers in you?
Take out that piece of paper again. Write down the emotions that come to you when you think of that person.
Let’s go back to the stories that Jesus told in our text today. He told three stories in a row. This was a common teaching method in his day. You tell the first two stories to set up the third.
A shepherd lost a sheep and found it. Party!
A woman lost a coin and found it. Party!
A Father had two sons. He lost one and found him. Party!
That’s what we’re expecting. We want it to be like my story of the lost kid on the mission trip. A poor, innocent kid gets lost, or falls down a cliff and we are worried sick.
He doesn’t deserve to be lost. He deserves to be found!
But Jesus pulls a fast one on us.
This son isn’t lost.
He’s a jerk.
He broke all the rules.
Jewish law specifically stated that sons were not allowed to receive their inheritance until the father dies.
Furthermore, the oldest son inherits a double portion. That is his birthright.
This younger son demands that his father give him his inheritance right now. That’s equivalent to saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead.” And, he takes half the inheritance, thus stealing his brother’s birthright.
Then, he takes his inheritance, leaves his family, goes to a gentile country, squanders his money on parties and prostitutes, and completely disgraces his family.
This kid doesn’t deserve to be found.
He deserves to be forgotten.
That’s how the older brother feels about his disgraceful little brother.
But how does the Dad feel?
It seems that every day he scans the horizon, wanting his son to come home. Then one day, there is a figure on the horizon.
This boy wasted all his money. He was so broke and desperate that he had to slop pigs.
He was broken, humbled, and realized that he didn’t deserve to be a son any more, but at least he could get some food in his father’s house.
So, the broken son returns home.
What does the Dad do?
Does he brow beat him and remind him of what a disgrace he is. “What nerve you have dragging your sorry butt back to my house, after what you did!”
He runs to him.
He throws his arms around him.
He throws a party.
Because his son deserves to be found.
Why does Jesus tell this story?
Look at the first two verses of Luke 15 again. It says that Jesus was hanging out with Tax Collectors and sinners. The Pharisees and Scribes criticize him for this.
You have to understand, this is not just a case of prejudice. The Pharisees had a deep conviction that the reason their nation was suffering so badly was because the people had disgraced God by continually breaking God’s Law that was given to Moses.
Even worse, these tax collectors were working for the Roman government, collecting taxes from their own people to feed the beast of Rome.
The only way to save their country was to get rid of these sinners, to become pure and holy again, and then God will restore them to the Promise.
The religious leaders are the older brother.
These tax collectors and sinners that Jesus is hanging around with are the younger brother.
Jesus looks at the religious leaders and replies to their criticism with these three stories.
When something valuable has been lost, it deserves to be found. And when it comes home, that’s when we party!
The kingdom of God isn’t about being perfect and getting all of the people who deserve to be forgotten, well…lost.
The Kingdom of God is about reminding us that EVERYONE deserves to be found.
As you listen to this today, you might find yourself in one of three places:
The First place you might be is…you might be the older brother. Think of the name I asked you to remember and the negative emotions you wrote down. If that person were to come to you and ask for forgiveness today, would you give it?
You don’t understand, Pastor Steve. You don’t know what they did to me, you don’t know what they did to my family.
I’m not saying that what they did doesn’t matter. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t seek justice.
I’m asking, if they came back and truly asked you to forgive them, would you be willing to forgive?
The second place you might be is…you might be the younger brother.
You’ve done some things that you’re ashamed to admit. You know you deserve to be sneered at. Perhaps you think you are too far gone.
Listen to me…You’re not.
God loves you.
God is like the father in this story. God forgives, because you are God’s child, and…
You deserve to be found.
In fact, God has already forgiven you in Jesus Christ. Are you able to trust in God’s Grace?
There is a third place you might be. You might be right where I am.
The truth is that all of us are a mixture of the older and the younger brother. We have people in our lives that have hurt us, and there are people that we have hurt.
Look at the first set of words I had you write down. Those words of joy are the way that God feels about you right now.
Here is the narrow way that Jesus calls us to follow.
We must remember that, in God’s eyes, EVERYONE deserves to be found.