Text: Luke 15
Father, we come to you in humility. We ask for understanding of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the two Lost Sons. Teach us how to repent, how to recognize our lostness. We want to be found so that at the end of our lives, there is much rejoicing in heaven over each one of us. That is what we want, Lord. We want the final salvation of everybody in this room. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
I think Luke 15 is an often misunderstood chapter and I think Christians, we’ve heard sermons, and pastors love to preach on Luke 15 as a call to evangelize the lost. Is that the main reason for this chapter? Is Jesus telling us that we should evangelize the lost?
And the assumption here is that we are found. The lost are out there. And I need to go find them. Let’s evangelize. Let’s reach out. Is that the main point of Luke 15?
The clue is in verse 1 and 2.
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Right away, you see the heart of the Pharisees. They are looking at Jesus. He’s at the center. Around Jesus, if you think of concentric circles, are sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, the poor, the crippled, the blind, the sick, the lame, the maimed. They’re gathered around Jesus because they’re so desperate for healing, for deliverance, for food, for direction. They’re lost. And they are gathered around the Person who will guide them toward reaching the final destination, which is heaven.
And the Pharisees, in their complaint, you already can see what they think of themselves. The Pharisees would not think of themselves as sinners. They would not think of themselves as lost and so today I want to talk about lostness.
Do you know that you’re lost? Do you know that at any moment even while you are found, the next moment you can be lost again? Do you know it’s quite easy to spend a year, five years being lost, even within the church while doing a bunch of things? Because who is lost here? Who is Jesus communicating to? To the Pharisees.
And the correction here is, He’s speaking to Christians in the Church who are lost but do not recognize their lostness. Because if you are lost, but you don’t think you’re lost, you’re really lost. I mean, you cannot help somebody who thinks they’re found.
Here, you have a sheep, you have a coin and you have two lost sons. And you also have somebody looking for these lost items. You have the shepherd looking for the sheep. You have the woman looking for the coin. And even though the text doesn’t say it, there is somebody looking for both lost sons and we know that someone is Jesus. Jesus is looking for his lost people.
And what we notice about the one sheep, the one coin, and the one son is that they repent. So how do you come out of your lostness? You repent. So the first step of coming out of lostness is recognizing, I am lost.
See, this parable doesn’t even make sense if you think, well, I understand life. I’m on a good path. I have everything I need. This chapter will not make sense unless your first confession is, I am lost.
And you might hear that and say, what do you mean? I got baptized 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago. Jesus found me and there was rejoicing in heaven on that day. Does that mean, from that point on, you’re never lost? Actually, the day after your baptism, you could be lost again spiritually.
The key is that they repent. And the first confession when we repent is, Lord Jesus, I am lost. So I want us to look back on this year. Did you ever confess to Jesus that you’re lost? Because at the core of repentance, it’s not, Oh I messed up, I got to do better. It’s Lord, I’m lost. The reason things are hitting a brick wall is because I’m lost, Lord.
Like the son who left his home, we might think his lostness began the day he left. No, his lostness began way sooner while he was in his father’s house. Everything was provided for him, but he was discontent. He was already planning, give me the inheritance. I got to be on my own, and he thought a change of circumstances was the key. He was already lost, but he thought, I can be found if I just had the money and I could just do what I want.
When you’re lost, you will feel a restlessness. You will feel an anxiety, you will feel like things are incomplete. You’ll feel a lack of peace. You will feel, I don’t know where my life is headed and you will think, if you’re genuinely lost and you don’t know where the solution is, you will genuinely think, I need a new job. I need to get married. I need to change churches. You can list a bunch of things and say, this is the solution to my lostness. When there’s only one solution…
First, you recognize, you’re lost. Second step to come out of your lostness is you ask Jesus to find you. Jesus, I’m lost. Help! I don’t know what direction to go. Help me! For the Prodigal Son, of course, there’s a turning and he actually knows the way back home. This is an incomplete metaphor. He knows where his house is. He knows the address so he can turn and go back home. He can repent and turn.
For the believer we repent and we are on a journey to our Father’s house. But do we know which way it is? Do we know which path it is? Have we ever been there? Do we know the address? We know it’s in heaven, but do we know the path? Do we know the way? No, it’s not like the Prodigal Son. We don’t know exactly, I turn on this corner, I go around the In N Out and I will reach home. No, it’s not like that. We don’t know the way to the Father. We don’t know how to get to the Father’s house.
And there comes Jesus. Jesus says, I am The Way. And so if you’re lost, first, you have to admit, I’m lost. I hope this is a very common prayer. I’m ending this year praying the way I should have prayed throughout this year. Lord Jesus, I’m lost. I don’t know why I didn’t pray this way until December. I should have prayed it all throughout this year. Lord Jesus, I’m lost.
I didn’t pray this way because I didn’t think I was lost. I thought I was on my way. And at the end of the year, I realized I was stumbling through 2018. It took me 11 months. Finally, I realize. Lord Jesus, I’m lost. And once you recognize that, it’s not as easy as, well, go back to your Father’s house. We don’t know the address. It’s not enough to say, return to Jesus. Do you know where Jesus is? Has He come to you? Do you know what city he’s moving toward tomorrow? Do you know what His plan is next week?
See, when you’re lost and you’re not hearing the Shepherd’s voice and you don’t know where He’s at, where He’s moving, where He’s coming, where He’s going, we have to ask Jesus to find us. Like we don’t know how to get back to Him. Because He is the only way to the Father’s house. And so first you recognize, Lord, I’m lost. That is step one of repentance. Step 2 is Jesus, find me.
In the case of the lost sheep and the lost coin, they were lost and they could not find their way back, but we might miss the fact that someone was looking for them. The shepherd was looking for the sheep. The woman was looking for the coin. And if you are lost, the good news is Jesus is looking for you.
And so we just have to say, I am lost and the solution is not a new job, the solution is not grad school, the solution is not marriage, the solution is not a new boss, the solution is not fill in the blank. If you’re lost, you will feel it. Things will not feel settled and you will make a grave mistake if you think the solution to my problem is fill in the blank. There’s only one answer. It’s Jesus.
The problem is, can you find Jesus if you’re lost and you’re having a hard time connecting with Him? It is not enough to know the answer. It’s not enough that I can fill in the answer — Jesus. That doesn’t solve the problem. You know the answer, you know that your lost. Still, the problem is, how do I get to my Father’s house? What direction is it? Where can I find Jesus? You have to admit, you have to confess, you have to cry out, and this is repentance, Jesus, find me. Jesus, lead me. Jesus, come to me.
The Pharisees, they have no clue about anything that Jesus is saying because they’ve elevated themselves. They look down at these “sinners,” who are so needy. They think, I have the doctrine. I’m like the 99 sheep. I’m like the nine coins. I’m like the Elder Son. They don’t need to repent. They’re not lost. They know how to get to heaven.
How lost are they? Jesus is talking about them. He’s talking about the 99 who don’t think they need to repent. See, that’s the clue. We think, we are one of the found 99 sheep. Let’s go after the lost. That is not the point of this parable. Jesus is talking to the Pharisees who think they’re found. You think you have your doctrine. You think you know the way to the Father’s house. You think you are not a sinner in need of saving.
There is rejoicing in heaven every time we repent, but it is not even close to the final rejoicing that you will hear if you make it to the Father’s house. See, every time, even in this moment, if you repent, there is rejoicing in heaven. If Jesus finds you because you recognize you’re lost and you say, Jesus, find me. And He actually comes to you and you meet Him and there’s an encounter, there is rejoicing in heaven. But tomorrow you could be lost again.
Is it a one-time rejoicing when you first bowed the knee to Christ upon initial salvation? No, every time you repent, there is rejoicing. Every time Jesus finds you, there is rejoicing. But that rejoicing is so small compared to the rejoicing you will hear when you are finally saved. And you enter the Father’s presence, His house, a room with your name on it. Think of the thunderous applause of the angels and the 24 elders and the four creatures and all the saints, the cloud of witnesses, they will be rejoicing.
And so the rejoicing that Jesus is talking about here is the final rejoicing. The final rejoicing when you finally make it to the Father’s house. And how can you make it there? Do you know the address? No. But you know the way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And if you follow Him, you stay close to Him, He will lead you all the way, step by step, to the Father’s house.
And I don’t know about you, but I long for that day. Yes, it’s nice — every time you repent, there is rejoicing, but what I long for is the final rejoicing that I can hear with my own ears when I’m in His presence, when I am no longer lost.
We are, technically speaking, we’re kind of lost until we’re finally found. You’re never fully found. You never fully come out of lostness. You’re never fully hearing the rejoicing until that final moment when you cross over to glory. In that moment, you can say, now I am found. Now, I’m no longer a lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son. I finally am found. Which means, there is great danger. This is why Christian life is a narrow road. There is great danger. We might assume, well, I was found before and once found, always found. No, until you actually see the Father and hear the rejoicing with your own ears, technically, you’re not found.
So, what is repentance at the core? It is confessing what you did at the very beginning when you first bowed the knee to Christ — I am lost. Jesus, find me. Every time you repent you’re saying the same prayer. I’m lost. Jesus, come find me. Jesus, where are you? I know you’re the solution to my situation, to my condition. Jesus, find me and when He finds you, there is rejoicing in heaven, but it is not a final rejoicing. The final rejoicing is when you finally make it.
As we close up this year, I encourage you to reflect. How was this year? Were you lost? Did you did you even acknowledge the possibility of lostness? Did you know that Jesus is the only solution to your lostness?
And if you are a Pharisee, if you are a veteran Christian, sadly, this message may be over your head. Because you think, I don’t need to repent, I’m one of the 99, I’m safe, I’m found. Let’s go after the lost. We have to recognize we are the lost ones until the end, until final salvation. You and I are the lost ones. And Jesus, we are crying out to You, find me. Jesus, keep finding me. Jesus, keep leading me. You’re the only way back to the Father.
Okay, let’s pray. It’s simple message today. Do you know that you’re lost? Do you even conceive of the possibility that spiritually you could be lost today? Have you confessed even once this past year, Lord, I’m lost. Things are not working out. I don’t know what to do.
And you feel a restlessness and anxiety. Before you jump to a solution, can you stop and say, Jesus, find me? That is the other side of repentance. First, you recognize the problem. The Pharisees did not recognize it.
So for us, we recognize the problem of spiritual lostness and we know that the solution to our lostness can be found in only one place and one place only — the person of Jesus. He will lead you from lostness to final salvation, to your Father’s house.
It is not enough to be dutiful like the older brother of the Prodigal Son. He was dutiful. He thought he was found. He was so Pharisee-like. He could not rejoice. He worked hard. He was angry. There was no joy, and he was the exact audience that Jesus was trying to address and the Church is filled with elder Brothers — dutiful, angry, working hard, serving, totally lost, busy trying to save the lost while they themselves are lost. How ironic.
Father, we just ask you to allow this message to sink in. We don’t understand that until final salvation, in a sense, we are always, perpetually lost. Until You find us. And it’s not just finding us in one event. It is finding us each moment of each day. Leading us, shepherding us, speaking and Your sheep hearing Your voice and following You.
You are the solution, you are the way, the truth and the life. You are the way to the Father’s house. We want to hear rejoicing on that day of final salvation. We want to hear it with our own ears. We don’t want to just read about it. We want to hear it and there’s only one way — we have to humbly admit, Yes, I’m a sinner. Yes, I am lost. Yes, I am prone to wander.
I don’t know how to stay connected to You, Jesus, because apart from You, I can do nothing. If only we agreed with You, what You said in your word, if only we understood the principle that without You, we are lost. Without You, we are fruitless. Without you, there’s no purpose, no meaning.
Jesus, we need You to come find us. We don’t know where You are. We don’t know how to find You. We don’t know Your address. We’re just stuck in our lostness.
But we know the solution is you, Lord Jesus. Come find us. And as we close this year, we don’t want to enter 2019 still being lost, still chasing after wrong solutions. We want to find You, Lord. And we ask You to find us.
And once You find us, we want to do our best to stay close to You, to abide in You, to follow You, to be devoted to You, to live for You. And if we’re lost, we repent of our lostness. We recognize our lostness.
Forgive us for being like Pharisees. Because I don’t know if we prayed even once this past year about our lostness. If that’s the case, we are the Pharisees. We are the exact audience that Jesus is addressing in Luke 15. We don’t think we need to repent we think we are okay.
We don’t understand that the anxiety, the restlessness, these are clues. You are trying to show us our lostness. Jesus, come find us now as we come before Your Lord’s table. We thank you for dying for us, for allowing Your body to be broken, and Your blood to be shed. And this is the open door to come live with You and dine with You. And to be nourished by You and to fellowship with You. And if we stay close, it is a way, a direct path to the Father’s house.
So, Father, we come before Your Son. We worship Him. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen