Monday, September 9, 2013

God's heart revealed in parables Luke 15:1-10

Jesus demonstrated God's audacious love for the lost when ate with sinners Luke 15:1-2. His actions goaded self-righteous Pharisees. Jesus responded to their grumbling with 3 parables (now heard in Luke 15:3-32) each revealing God's heartfelt love for the lost.

  • a shepherd went after 1 lost sheep leaving 99 behind (Luke 15:3-7)
  • a widow searched for a missing coin and rejoiced after finding it (Luke 15:8-10)
  • a father stood by waiting for his son to come home and held a feast when he came home(Luke 15:11-32)
Jesus' parables reveal God's heart for those lost in this world. In all 3 stories there is rejoicing in Heaven as the lost are restored back to God.

Who am I in these stories? I see myself in two places this year--
1) I am a sinner saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). I am one of the lost God has saved by grace. It doesn't matter if I am one who God searched out (Luke 15:1-10) or if I am one who came home to God's open arms (Luke 15:11-32). What matters is the joy in heaven at the restoration of the lost.

As a member of the church--as a pastor called to share the good news--I read these words thinking of the times I've judged someone to lost for even God's love. Reading these stories reminds me of God's will to both search out the lost and welcome back those who return in repentance.

2) I am a Pharisee annoyed by Jesus fellowship with sinners. Jesus love for the broken extend the Kingdom way beyond the self-righteous. In all my attempts at piety I find this story challenging--I have no special place with God or in God's heart. No God's heart is so great that it encompasses the lost and forsaken as well as the proud. I need no special place--God's heart already includes a space for me claimed not by my works but by my faith.

A wise teacher gave salient advice for reading the gospels. Whenever Jesus was in conflict with the Pharisees substitute the name Lutheran in their place (it works whatever your denomination or group might be) just substitute your beloved factions name in their place. It's easy to cheer when Jesus digs hard into somebody else--but the moment when he's really giving it to you is often the moment when you are exposed again to God's grace in your life.

Peace, and thanks for reading, John

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