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Chuck Smith :: Sermon Notes for Luke 15:3

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Intro. This parable is in response to the criticism of the scribes and pharisee's who were saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
A. You must remember the traditions of the scribes and pharisee's.
1. They felt that sin or uncleanness could be transferred by touch.
2. As they would walk down the street they would clutch their robes tight to their bodies to keep them from swishing and accidentally touching a woman, a gentile or a sinner.
3. Should they accidentally touch a sinner, they would go through a ceremonial washing to cleanse themselves from the defilement.
4. Eating with a sinner was even worse, for by their traditions and teaching eating with a person was tantamount to becoming one with that person.
a. A problem actually developed in the early church over this very issue.
b. Peter came to visit the Gentile church in Antioch which was sort of home base for Paul's ministry.
c. Peter was eating with the Gentiles until certain Jews came from the church in Jerusalem, he then refused to eat with the Gentiles. This created a division in the church, so that Paul openly rebuked Peter for being two-sided in the matter.
d. Gentiles were considered unclean by the Jews so when Jesus called Peter to go with the gospel to the Gentiles He told him not to call that unclean, which He had cleansed.
5. In chapter 7 of Luke we have the story of Jesus eating at the house of Simon the Pharisee, when the woman stood at the feet of Jesus weeping, as she began to wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair, the pharisee said to himself, "If this Man were a true prophet, He would not allow this woman to touch Him for she is a sinner."
6. Further on in chapter 19 when Jesus went to the house of Zacchaeus for dinner they murmured against Him again saying that He had gone to the house of a sinner to eat.
B. The accusation was that He received sinners. We can be very thankful for this.
1. Back in chapter 5 He said that He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
2. This is such a glorious truth that a writer made a hymn from the theme. "Christ receiveth sinful man."
3. He has received me.
4. If you are a sinner today, and you have about given up hope of ever changing, I have glorious news for you, "Christ receives sinful men."
5. The big thing here is that by His touching you or me, our sin does not defile Him, but His righteousness transforms us.
6. As followers of Jesus Christ, this should be the case with us as we live in this sinful world. Rather than being polluted by this world, we should be a cleansing influence in this world.
7. The Bible exhorts us to not be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good.
8. Again it is the principle of the expulsive force of the greater power.
a. You do not drive out the darkness, you simply turn on the light.
b. Light, being the greater power, will dispel the darkness.
A. "What man of you having one hundred sheep if one of them is missing does not leave the 99 to go search for the one lost sheep."
1. He searches until he finds it.
2. He then carries it on his shoulders back to safety rejoicing that he has found the one that was lost.
B. It is quite obvious that in this story, Jesus is the Shepherd who goes out to search for the lost sheep.
But none of the ransomed ever knew,
How deep were the waters crossed,
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through, Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard it's cry,
Sick and helpless and ready to die,
"Lord, whence are these blood drops all the way, That mark out the mountains track?
They were shed for one who had gone astray,
Ere the shepherd could bring him back,
Lord whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?
They're pierced tonight by many a thorn.
1. Jesus said, "I am the good Shepherd, and I lay down My life for the sheep."
2. Note the natural response to finding that which was lost, is that of rejoicing.
3. We all know that that is true.
a. All of us have known the desperation of having lost something that was of value to us.
b. We have all of us engaged in a diligent search to find that which we lost.
c. Sometimes we never find it, and we know how forlorn that makes us feel.
d. But then to find something after searching for so long is always such a joyous occasion.
4. Maybe we have shared our loss with someone else who has joined us in our search, and when that which was lost is found we call them to share our joy.
5. Jesus then speaks of the joy in heaven over the one sinner that repents, it is more than over the ninety nine that needed no repentance.
6. Jesus declared that His mission was to seek and to save those who were lost.
C. This all means that if you are lost today, Jesus has been seeking you.
1. He knows the danger that can befall a sheep that is lost.
2. He knows that the life of that sheep is in jeopardy, that it can't defend itself against the wild beasts that would prey upon it.
3. It is interesting that He likens us unto sheep because sheep are so dumb.
a. They do not have enough sense to keep from roaming off.
b. They do not seem to have a sense of danger.
c. They are a very easy prey for the wolves.
d. Once they have strayed off, they have no homing instincts. They can not find their way back home on their own.
4. I love the picture of the shepherd carrying the sheep on His shoulder.
a. The good and faithful shepherd was not content to let the erring sheep be destroyed, but went out in search for that which was lost.
b. When he finds it, he puts it on his shoulders and carries it back to safety, rejoicing all the way.
c. That joy is also carried over into the heavenly scene as they rejoice in the finding of that which was lost.
D. In the next portion of this parable it goes from a lost sheep to a lost coin.
1. Again we see the diligent search to find that which was lost, and the subsequent rejoicing when it was found.
2. Here again the joy is carried over into the spirit realm as Jesus tells us that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
E. What does it mean to be lost?
1. It means that your life is separated from God, you are living by your rules rather than by His.
2. It means that sin dominates your life and it is destroying you.
a. Some of you, because of sin, have become lost to your family.
b. A loss to the community.
c. A loss to the church. You rarely attend, your involvement in the things of the flesh has so dominated your life that you feel little urge towards the things of the Spirit.
d. If everyone was like you the church would have been forced to close it's doors long ago, and could no longer be an influence for good in the community.
F. The Holy Spirit is searching for you.
A. In the third part of the parable, a son demands his share of his father's inheritance and immediately goes out and gets lost in a sinful wayward life.
1. It is not long until he realizes how he has lost everything.
2. As he is seeking to satisfy his hunger now on the corn husks he is feeding to the swine, he comes to himself and basically says to himself, "I'm lost, and I'm going home."
3. We do not see the Father searching diligently for him, but patiently waiting for him. Herein is the basic difference in the three stories. In the first two there is the diligent search for that which was lost. In the third there is a patient waiting until that one who is lost finds himself.
4. Again there is the common rejoicing over the fact that the lost has been found.
B. I pray that today some of you will come to yourself. Face the truth of your situation, realize what you are doing to yourself and to others whose hearts you have broken. May you return and be restored to the family of God.

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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