Welcome again to Great Commission Church
I currently serve GCC as the Missions & Pastoral Intern with the goal of, by God’s grace, my wife and I will be sent out from GCC as He continues to call us and qualify me for the role of Pastor
So, as I’ve mentioned before, please be in prayer for Melanie and I as we prepare for that day
Today, our lead pastor, Trevor, has asked me to fill the pulpit
It is a great responsibility and honor to proclaim the Word of God before the church today
At this time I want to invite you to open your Bible’s to the Gospel of Luke chapter 15 as we kick off a new series called Lost & Found
This sermon is entitled the THorough and Unrelenting Seeker
Now this may be just me but I have a tendency to lose things
I will put my keys, or my wallet, or something down somewhere - somewhere randomly - and then completely forget where I put it.
And it will never fail I’ll need to leave the house quickly - and will begin to search. Frantically. And I will go to the usual spots.
To our entry mud closet.
To the back of our piano - because I have that problem where if there is a horizontal surface I dump stuff on it.
Our breakfast bar.
My bedside table.
I frantically and diligently search everywhere.
And despite my best efforts - i usually cannot find it.
So then, i do the thing i don’t want to do.
I call in reinforcements - and I ask my lovely wife Melanie - have you seen my wallet?
And she typically says, ‘did you look in this completely random spot that is not a good spot for storing stuff?”
And she is right
My wife is great at finding my lost things around the house
Now in our passage today we will read 2 parables where we will see an even better seeker who has an unending effort and leaves no nook unexamined.
Let’s read now Luke 15 verses 1 through 10
Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners band eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
My goal today is quite simple - for us to be able to walk away and answer three questions - so maybe for you note takers write these out.
What is the Context?
What is the main idea or ideas?
How does this apply to my life?
So here we have Jesus speaking to a now gathered crowd
The crowd contains 2 basic groups
Pharisees - the religious elite - the in crowd
Sinners & Tax Collectors - The outcasts - the obviously out
And the religious elite cannot stand the fact that Jesus is not only allowing these sinners & tax collectors to be around Him
But He also is willing to dine with them
Recall back to Luke 14 when Jesus tells the story of the great banquet to which the elites won’t attend.
The banquet thrower insists that if the elites won’t come the invitation would extend further to the most outside of outside people. The ones along the highways and hedges.
These outcasts, having heard of the banquet invitation
And then hearing of the cost of discipleship
Yet still around Jesus
And listening - intently to the one who recognized them - the thing society wouldn’t do
Listening intently as Jesus says ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ in 14:35
The outcasts were on the edge of their seats - what would he say next
And this caused the Pharisees to grumble
Jesus’ words and the clear execution of His open invitation to the outcasts bothered the Pharisees as we see in 15:2 “And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”
This complaining could also be called grumbling or murmuring.
Beyond that it was a ‘great’ murmuring
So when my mom made this - I greatly mumbled
See how Theologian, Pastor, & Professor Dale Davis says this about the grumbling, ‘The Pharisees & Company are simply clones of an earlier generation of unbelieving Israel.’
Here’s where it’s found
In the Old Testament this murmuring or grumbling was seen in Exodus 16:2 “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”
This verse begins the Israelites complaint that was insane - they went on to say they wish they died at the hands of the Egyptians in slavery rather than continue what God was doing by leading them through the wilderness to the promise land
Now realize the complaint of the Pharisees was one based upon their religious excellence in attempting to stay spiritually pure
You see there was a rule about associating with these outcasts
Australian Theologian Leon Morris in the Tyndale commentary said about the effort of the pharisees to stay pure ‘One must not associate with an ungodly man… this was taken so seriously that the rabbis would not associate with such a person even to teach him the Law. Eating with these people was regarded as worse than mere association: it implied welcome and recognition.”
And Jesus is absolutely destroying their perceived means of purity - and they don’t understand.
So Jesus goes on to tell 3 parables in response to this grumbling
So to summarize for the note takers
Jesus is continuing to speak to a crowd that has gathered.
The crowd contains:
Pharisees - the religious elite - the in crowd
Sinners & Tax Collectors - the outcasts & rejects of society.
Understanding this matters because the mixed audience just heard about the banquet & the cost of discipleship -
And now the outsiders were intrigued while the insiders/elites were disgusted at the idea - and Jesus aims to explain and clarify
So what was Jesus trying to explain
What is something we see in both parables
In the parable of the lost sheep
We first see a shepherd going after the lost sheep
This shepherd leaves the 99 and goes to get the 1 lost sheep
And this is because, for that shepherd, this one sheep is extremely valuable.
So to lose even a single sheep really matters to the shepherd as a worker and financially
Now note the phrase at the end of verse 4, “until he finds it.”
Don’t blast past this
It is important to see the extent to which the shepherd seeks.
Leon Morris again says, “He makes more than a token search. He wants his sheep so he looks till he finds it.”
It was never in doubt - the shepherd was going to find this sheep
Similarly the woman lights her dark house and searches carefully or diligently
And verse 8 finishes with ‘Until she finds it’
Her search is thorough
It leaves no corner unchecked
It leaves no furniture unmoved
The woman will be successful in finding the lost coin
And this brother’s and sisters is good news
This is beautiful news
Oh Christian in the room lift up your eyes and see your savior - the shepard in the first parable and the woman in the 2nd parable
See the thoroughness and unrelenting way Jesus came after us sinners
Write this down: (put this sentence on the screen)
There is a thoroughness and unrelenting effort by Jesus’ to seek & save sinners.
Listen to how JC Ryle articulates this, “Just as the shepherd did not sit still bewailing his lost sheep and the woman did not sit still bewailing her lost money, so our blessed Lord did not sit still in heaven pitying sinners. He left the glory which he had with the Father and humbled himself to be made in the likeness of man. He came down into the world to seek and save those who were lost. He never rested until he had made atonement for our transgressions, brought in everlasting righteousness, provided eternal redemption and opened a door to life to all who are willing to be saved.’
What a savior this Jesus is
And he isn’t saying this to the ones who appear to have it all together
He isn’t saying this to the ones who were good at being ceremonially clean
The ones gathered by Jesus’ side as he says ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’ are the tax collectors and sinners
And if you are in the room today - not sure why you are in church
Please hear these words
God loves you
And he won’t leave any stone unturned before He gets you
The bible says in Romans 5:8 ‘But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while <we were still sinners,> Christ died for us.’
It doesn’t matter how you came in here
It doesn’t matter what you did last week
It doesn’t matter what you did 10, 20, 30 years ago
What matters is the very Son of God set aside Glory
Lived the life we couldn’t live
Died the death we deserved
And paid our bill in full - and we can be sure of this because on the 3rd day this unrelenting shepherd
This thorough searching woman
This Jesus busted out of that grave
He will not rest
He is calling you now
He is saying Trust in me sinner
Trust in my life person feeling as an outcast
Come to me all you who are weary
Trust in Jesus today.
Have a Romans 10:9 moment now “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’
Get your ministry card out, no really if God is yanking at your soul right now
- write your name down, write a way to reach you down, and tell us you want to talk about salvation
And after service, i’m going to sit down right here. Bring your ministry card to me.
Sinner, outcast, downtrodden person in the room their is hope in the one who loves you. Please let us talk to you about Jesus
But it doesn’t stop with being found
Oh no it doesn’t stop there
But then it gets better - re-read verse 5 “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”
Read verse 9 ‘And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!'
Here is our second repeated idea:
There is rejoicing by a multitude in heaven when a sinner is found and turns to God.
Fred Craddock puts it this way, ‘The joy of finding is so abundant that it cannot be contained; one person alone cannot adequately celebrate it; there must be a part to which others are invited. Jesus invites even his critics to join him and all of heaven in celebration of finding the lost.’
Jesus invites the grumbling pharisees to rejoice in the sinners and tax collectors being brought to himself & ultimately saved through His work on the cross.
Jesus works hard to show them the goodness in celebrating the lost being found.
Jesus also details how the finding goes
The shepherd does not go to look for the lost sheep, then return to the 99 and tell his shepherd buddies - that missing sheep is in that ravine over there, isn’t that nice.
The woman doesn’t leave her lost coin in the corner of the room under the bed.
No there is a bringing back, there is a turning back
There is repentance.
The turning from one way to the opposite way.
When God brings a sinner home
When God brings a sinner from death to life
When God rescues you he doesn’t leave you where you were found
He changes you
He helps you love what God loves
He helps you hate what GOd hates
By the power of the Holy Spirit your life will be marked by repentance
But rest assured, your home is secure
The shepherd put you on his shoulders
He will bring you home
Listen to the Apostle Paul articulate the completeness of our salvation Romans 8 starting in verse 28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, <The Lost are Found> these He also glorified. <Put on His Shoulders, lit a lamp and didn’t stop>
Skip down to verse 35 -
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our savior is thorough and won’t relent until He brings us home
Whatever we face, trials, pains, cancer, terminal disease, even our failures - Jesus is a perfect and thorough savior
And Jesus is such a great savior - he won’t stop until all that the Father has given Him - are found - all sheep and all coins are found
See the good news in these parables
And throughout the Bible
From beginning to end our Bible points us to the Glory due to God through him bringing His children into his presence
Now finally today - what does this matter for us Monday through Saturday this week & the rest of our lives
Change of heart, or repentance, matters.
We should examine ourselves and see if God has changed anything in us recently.
See if we have recently gone to war against sin & a low view of God.
Have you prayed with someone in our church for God to change your heart, change your mind, change your desires, change your thoughts
Have you hungered and thirsted for the Lord
Have we put away the old and put on the new
Have we seeked to be more like Jesus - this is something we should aim for this week
What else matters in these parables
Find joy in what brings God joy.
This repeated idea is being articulated to the pharisees.
Two slaps in the face regarding the Pharisee’s, cough myself cough, missing joy in the lost being found:
Ryle again ‘The Pharisees found fault with our Lord for welcoming sinners. Our Lord replies, in effect, that the thing which they found fault with was the very thing he came on earth to do.’
Craddock ‘Finding and restoring the lost gives pleasure to God as wella s to all who are about God’s business.’
Find joy in what brings God joy.
Church can easily get easy - and we can be content with the crowd that is here
And forget what our mission is
How we are to be about God’s business
This hits home for me. And God has been working on this in me.
For the longest time while I spent 4 years as the Youth Pastor here, I wanted so badly to move to ministry vocationally and work at the church full time. I thought it would be so fun, and fulfilling, and good for my soul.
But what God has taught me and is teaching me - is if he is going to use me in ministry - it is not for my benefit, or the cool job, or chill work environment.
It is because he intends to use me in a particular way to make His name known by His grace
We don’t come to church for a social club
We won’t plant a church to make the name Great Commission Church known
I won’t leave the business world because the pay is better
But rather - God is worthy of worship. And there are driveways full on Sundays. And there are fields ripe for the harvest. And the name of Jesus must be proclaimed.
And should be proclaimed to all who have ears. Even the ones who don’t look like us, talk like us, smell like us, aren’t as edumacated as us, or anything.
Our namesake as a local church is Great Commission Church
But how often do we, do I as I go - make disciples.
How often am I about the business of God.
How often do I do things in hopes of seeing a lost person found by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This convicted me during the prep of this sermon. And has been something God has been working on in me for some time.
I easily become a grumbling pharisee
So again FInd Joy in what brings God joy.
Proclaim the Gospel to any and all as you Go.
Because through this proclamation the thorough and unrelenting savior will find the lost and save them
And bring them home
So now we, GCC, are about to head out into the battlefield
Let’s see where God has a harvest ready - and rejoice when we see a new believer found saved and baptized.