Finding the lost  Luke 15  All house filled with tax collectors & sinners.

Tax collectors were despised as they were the agents of Rome. Unclean, because they dealt with the Gentile Romans. They all enjoyed gathered in the home of possibly Matthew, a tax collector, to listen to Jesus.

Imagine that the house was filled with tax collectors & gentile sinners listening to Jesus who never condemned them.

Sinners would be Gentiles who did not know the law & carry it out.

Pharisees & teachers of the law were critical of Jesus.

Jesus receives sinners, He makes them feel relaxed & at home and eats with them. Baytna baytkum My house is your house. He acted as the host. They would eat out of a common dish. Using bread as a scoop and enjoyed the meal while listening to another who they wanted to hear. Eating & listening, relaxed & enjoying the message & the food.

Jesus told them the parable of the lost sheep. He classifies his listeners as shepherds who look after sheep belonging to others. Ex tis humon  which of you loses one of a 100, how do you know it is lost?  The shepherd counts the sheep.

Places them in charge of another & goes looking until he finds the lost sheep. It is helpless, has lost sight of the shepherd, does not hear his voice, has gone astray as it followed its mouth.

The shepherd finds the sheep. All it can do is bler I am lost. Helpless, alone. He rejoices. Places the sheep on his shoulders & returns home. He calls those that owned the sheep to rejoice with him as he had found the lost sheep. They too would rejoice as none would have lost a %. Likewise in heaven there is rejoicing over one sinner who repents.

Note how Jesus describes the people who accepted His invitation to eat with Him. He sees them as sinners like sheep who no longer want to go their own way, but find out from him how they can  live a life that pleases Him.

A woman  has ten silver coins in a necklace. One is lost. It devalues the necklace. She searches carefully until she finds the coin. She calls her neighbours to rejoice with her. Likewise there is is rejoicing by the angels over one who repents.

Why two parables?  Where is the sheep lost? Far from home.  Where is the coin lost?  In the home. Both are lost. Both helpless, both need to be found. Two sons. One lost in the far country & the other lost in the home. Father focus. Jesus teaches the part played by the father to bring about restoration.

There was a man who had two sons. Their role would be to care for their father in his old age & maintain the estate. The younger son did not want to care for his father but rather go his own way. The older son should have brought about reconciliation but fails to play his role as the first born. He too receives his share of the estate. The father has lost both of his sons. The one who leaves home & the other who stays in the home. Neither has a good relationship with the father.

Matthew 21:28-32 A man had two sons. One said he would not work for his father. Then changed his mind & did so. The other agreed to serve his father but did not. Which of the two did the will of the father? Tax collectors & prostitutes enter the kingdom

of God. The religious: chief priests & elders did not believe John or repent & believe. They remained lost.

What of the father? He knows whatever he gives to a son who wanted his portion of the estate would be lost. He is prepared to lose out financially to gain through a restored relationship. Jesus became poor that we through His poverty might become rich.  The father gave his sons freedom of choice. He gives them freedom to use what he gives. He does not reveal his feelings. He plays the role of father, provider. He is prepared to wait. Time will reveal all about the two sons.

The younger son turned his portion of the estate into cash & left home for a distant country. He wasted his wealth in pursuing his own agenda. He had no back up plan. He spent everything and found himself alone in a strange land in a  a downturn in the economy with loss of food and work. He went to a rich man to be hired. He was sent to feed his pigs  because he did not want to hire him & thought that as a Jew he would not accept such degrading work.

The pigs ate wild carob pods which are bitter. No one gave him anything. That is the state of everyone who has no relationship with the Father.

Dying of starvation, far from the Father, man’s help is useless, a stranger amongst strangers. When he came to his senses. How did he do that?

He started to think about the past. He remembered how his father dealt with his servants. Not just food but left overs. He was generous & considered the welfare of his servants. He could be a servant!

He felt he had lost his relationship with his father. That could never be regained because what he had been given by the father should have been used to care for the father in his old age and that was all lost. Maybe his father might take him on as a servant. He was willing to be that rather than die amongst the pigs.

He speaks to himself.  We all need to do that throughout our lives. The sermons we prepare we need to preach to ourselves first of all. The psalmist did in Psalm 42.

Do you talk to yourself?  Jesus talked to His Father. He wanted to know what to say & how to say it.

He felt that he had to do everything just as he had lost everything. He had lost his relationship with his father, he had lost the portion of the estate that he should have used to maintain the estate. He knew he could no longer be a son so only thought in terms of being a servant. At least he would once more enjoy having a full stomach.

While he was a long way from home – his father saw him. His father expected the return of his son, having lost everything, so he waited at the gate to the property and when he saw him far down the road, without camels loaded with spices, on his own, no one else with him, the father tucked his galabiyya into his waste band so that it would not hinder him. He ran for the only time in his life. He humbled himself because no one runs in the Middle East. He ran to be the first one to reach his son to protect him from the hostile reception of the family. It was the enacting of the word propitiation. God dealing with that which causes His anger, Sin.

God has to deal with sin so He can exercise His love in restoring us. The Father wants us to have a relationship with Himself.

Though Jesus was rich in His relationship with His Father, for our sakes He became poor that we through His sacrifice of Himself might become rich through our relationship with His Father who becomes our Father.

He ran because he valued the son more than the culture of his society, he thought of receiving his son, protecting him, embracing him. Others like Philip acted in the same way when he ran to overtake the EE’s chariot on the road to Gaza.

When he reached his son, he embraced him kissing him many times.

What did the father say to his lost son? Not a word!  God so loved the world that He spoke a great deal?  God so loved the world that He gave His one & only Son. At the cross of Jesus not a word from the Father!

The lost son said, “Father I have sinned against heaven & against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

What of the rest of his planned speech?  He left it out because of the way his father received him not as a servant but as a son. He never expected his father to humble himself by running down the road beyond the estate,  he had never done that before. He did not expect the compassion, embrace, the kisses, he had not experienced that in his life.

Eventually the servants of his father caught up with them. The father said to them: “Quick.”  In its time I the Lord will do it quickly.  In the space of three days our salvation was accomplished through the suffering, death, burial & resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  New birth happens quickly.

The father only speaks to the servants. He took into account that his son had lost everything. He did not want him to be ashamed, he wanted him to feel accepted, once more a member of the family.

“Bring the best robe & put it on him.”  The best robe was the Father’s Robe – it would cover everything. Even his feet It would reveal to all that the father had given his own robe. No one would know the past life of his son and & he would be treated with the same dignity as his father. (Robe shown & used.) Others would see the father’s robe on the son. Honoured by the Father.

“Put a ring on his finger.” A seal ring that thereafter he would act with the authority & full backing of the father. Judah Ben Hur was adopted by the consul Arias. He used his seal ring to demonstrate to Masala that he was the adopted son of Arias. Every believer in Jesus receives the seal of the Holy Spirit to show that he or she has become a member of God’s family. The indwelling  Holy Spirit is the evidence of the new covenant. He only lives in those who have come to know Jesus as their Passover Lamb, Saviour & Lord.

“Put sandals on his feet.”  He had returned barefoot. Only slaves walk without shoes. He returned as a slave of sin. The father showed that he was not a slave  but a son. Paul my son was shocked & rebuked me for walking barefoot in the street in Beirut. He said in Arabic that I was naked.

Robe for the body. The garment of salvation and robe of righteousness.

Ring for the finger. The seal of the Father to whom he belonged. In our case the Holy Spirit. Sandals for the feet, sandals, not a slave but a son. The ring/sandals indicated his status of a son. His relationship with the father restored.

“Kill the fattened calf to have a feast & celebrate. A note of rejoicing has returned to the home. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Rejoice in the Lord always. Godly rejoicing is evidence of God at work. There is rejoicing in heaven & in those that God has found. The Father pays the price of restoration.

Note the order of restoration and who does the ordering. The presence of the Father in the life of those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. It is the Father who is in control. The son has given back to his father authority and freedom to order his life as He chooses.

The Father alone finds the lost. He alone restores and resumes His work in us. He that has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion.

What does the son do?  He receives everything. Apart from acknowledging his failures and sin, he believes that the solution lies with the Father. He leaves it to the Father to order his life, to restore him and resume his teaching and bring him back to a life that pleases the father.

Part of that is leaving it to the Father to play His role, for the son to play his role by carrying out the instructions of the father.

The son has experienced GRACE. God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

Grace begins the work, maintains the work, completes the work.

Seven aspects of restoration

  1. Clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The robe covers all.
  2. Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Authority of a son restored.
  3. Sandals indicating a son not a servant.
  4. Fatted calf killed to bring about rejoicing & celebration.
  5. Evidence of belonging to God. Sound of rejoicing not heard before.
  6. Son receives everything. Undeserved grace of God.
  7. Allows God freedom to order his life. Presence & liberty of the Father restored.

Why does the father rejoice?  This son of mine was dead & is alive again. He was lost & is found.  The status of anyone who is not born again. He is dead & lost.

While all of this was happening the first born son heard something he had not heard before that of music and dancing. If he had a good relationship with his father that should not have troubled him. He should have accepted whatever his father did was with his consent. By questioning a servant he showed he did not trust his father. The servant told him all the details of how his brother had returned and his father had killed the fatted calf so that all could rejoice with the father.

The son became angry & refused to enter the area of celebration.

Rejoicing by followers of Jesus is misunderstood by many who have never themselves rejoiced.

The father shows his character by humbling himself once more. He leaves the area of rejoicing and humbles himself because he wants to find & restore his first born.

He pleaded with his son to join the celebration. This reveals the humility of the father because no one in the Middle East exposes their family woes so as not to be ashamed.

But this father followed by many observers wants to find & restore his relationship with his son. The first born regarded himself as a slave carrying out the wishes of the his master. Note he does not use the word father but addresses him without mentioning his status as father.

He was aware of no failures on his part. He had not received a goat to celebrate with his friends outside of the home. He had never asked his father. He never expected to receive. He accused the father of favouring a son who squandered his wealth on prostitutes (that idea came from his own experience).

In reply the father stated that his first born had always experienced the presence of the father & everything of the estate belonged to him. It was his to receive and enjoy but the father had to rejoice because his brother was dead & is alive again, he was

lost & is found.

Jesus does not complete the account. The son never enters the area of celebration.

Two sons. One is found but one remains lost. One lost all & one is aware of all he has done while having no respect or trust. So he remains lost.

A return to Matthew 21:28-32

Two sons. One at first refused to obey his father but later changed his mind.

The other said he would but never carried out the wishes of his father.

Jesus said Tax collectors & prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of the chief priests & leaders of the people. This confirms the fact that the first born remained lost. Which of the two sons do you identify with?

Are you aware of how much God has done to bring about your salvation?

Have you been found by Him?  Are you being restored? .

The way forward is through faith. The just shall live by faith. You by faith continue to receive all that God has done for you.

On what do you base your salvation?

A lady belonging to this assembly for 20 years once said that she hoped to go to heaven because she had lived a good life. Offer 4SL She came to personal faith in Jesus

What is the difference between the two sons?

The younger admitted he had sinned against God & his father. He admitted that he did not deserve to be called a son. He allowed his father to find & restore him. The first born was aware of all he had done. He was not aware of any failure on his part, not aware of the way he had spoken to his father. Not addressed him as father. Never having received anything from him, he accused his father of favouring  that son of his.  Did not refer to him as his brother. He remained lost.

Luke 16 Jesus spoke to His disciples. No longer speaking to those who were opposed to Him.

An estate manager was accused of wasting his master’s money. He was told to hand in all that was owed to his master by others as he could no longer retain his position as manager.

He spoke to himself.  There are times when we must do that. Like the psalmist in Psalm 42

He was too old for manual labour, too aware of his status to beg. He decided he needed to make friends who would help him in the future. He told those that owed his master at the time of harvest to reduce what they owed. They would have thought he was acting on behalf of his master. They had no idea he had been fired. They would never have acted dishonestly as they would lose future contracts.

Imagine the response of jubilation as people praised his master for his generosity. His master hears this and asks why people were praising him. He has two options. To tell all that his manager had been fired & had no authority to act as he did. The joy would turn to sorrow. Or he could keep quiet & continue to be praised for his generosity. He chooses to rather be praised by all because he liked to be regarded as generous.That would mean he was willing to lose to continue to be praised.

The master commended his manager for acting wisely. He had based his act on what he knew of the character of his master. Just as the prodigal son relied on the character of his father who always gave his servants more than they could eat.

So Jesus tells us to use worldly wealth to make friends for ourselves in heaven so that when we come to the end of our lives they would welcome us.

Whoever can be trusted with the way they handle money will also be trusted with spiritual insight. If we fail the money test you will not be trusted to handle spiritual riches.

If we fail to handle what God gives for God’s realm  we will not be trusted with that to meet our own needs.  No one can serve two masters. Either God or money.

Which will dominate your life?

What people value namely a large bank balance is detestable in God’s sight.

Two parables on money. What do they have in common ?

In both money was lost. The younger son lost his portion of the estate. The manager lost money belonging to his master. Both men missed an opportunity to use what they had wisely.

Thankfully God forgives and reminds us to use what time we live doing His will What God is able to do in & through our lives is more important than money.

Both counted on the character of the one to whom the money belonged.

Money is a test. How it is used. True riches are withheld if one fails the money test.

In both parables the person is of greater value than the money.

Do you value people more than money?  Their spiritual welfare. Their being in heaven to welcome you so that you will not be alone. Think of your arrival in heaven! Will you be on your own? Will others be there to greet you?