Loving the Lost

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Section 1: Opening Prayer

Holy God, all of us are lost from time to time. Help us to know that you are a wonderful shepherd, a searching woman and a loving Father that never gives up on His children. Help us to have our hearts open to see and hear your love for us. Amen

Section 2: Story

Here is an interesting telling of the Parable of the Lost Sheep:

And here is a telling of the Parable of the Lost Coin:

And here is a telling of the story we know as The Prodigal Son:

Section 3: Message

Read Luke chapter 15 here.

There are a lot of really cool videos on this chapter of the Bible. But it seems like most of them are missing the point.

This chapter seems to be all about the lost finding their way home, or the lost things repenting. Like the Prodigal son, he comes to his senses and goes home to ask forgiveness of his father.

But if this chapter it really about what is lost repenting, or changing, and seeking to be a part of the group again, I have a couple questions:

  1. How does a sheep repent?
  2. How does a coin repent?

A sheep repents by saying, “I’m sorry I’ve been baaaaaaaad.”

And a coin repents by saying, “I promise I’ll change.”

But you see the stories in this chapter are not about the sheep the coin or the son…

The first story does not start, there was a sheep that belonged to a shepherd who had 100 sheep. Nor does the second story start there was a coin who belonged to a woman who had 10 coins.

The first parable starts, “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them…”

and the second starts, “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them…”

So these stories are not about the lost item, but the one who owns them and looks for them. It is not about the object changing or repenting it is about the actions of the owner seeking after the item that has wandered off or rolled away. It is about how far the owner will go to look for something that is theirs.

And so the third parable, the one we know as the Prodigal Son, does it begin there was a man who had a father and an older brother?

No, it does not. The story begins “There was a man who had two sons.” There was a man who had two sons, so the story isn’t about the son, but the father. And let us take a look at all the father does to give to his offspring and to keep them in the family.

  1. The father accepts the younger son saying that he is dead.
    1. This is the only way a son could receive an inheritance if the father was dead.
    2. Can we ever demand an inheritance?
  2. The father watches the younger son leave but never gives up hope.
  3. The father was watching for the younger son to return home for when he saw him coming he ran to his son and hugged him.
    1. The father should not have been watching for the son to come home
      1. The son dishonored the father by demanding his inheritance.
  4. The father ran to the son
    1. men of this man’s stature would never have run, that is what slaves would have done for him.
    2. The father dishonors himself by hiking up his robes and running
  5. The father tells the slaves to give the son items:
    1. The best robe.
      1. Not just any old robe you find, but go into my closet and get the best one.
    2. a ring for his finger
      1. not just any old ring, but a signet ring, one with the family seal
    3. shoes for his feet
      1. This is the way you told members of the household from slaves.
        1. household members wore shoes
        2. slaves did not
    4. through all of these items, the father dishonors himself because he has restored the son to the place he was before he left.

The father dishonors himself time and time again in this story all for the love of his son. The father goes to great lengths to show the love he has for his child. He accepts the fact that he screwed up, but welcomes him home as if he did nothing wrong.

And then the dishonor goes on with the older son when the father leaves the party to go and speak to the older son, he brings dishonor on himself, but the father is unwilling to let any of his children be outside the family.

You see this story is not about the younger son who goes away, but the loving father who seeks after his lost children, those who have strayed and those who have always been there. God is the loving father that wants all of his children included and goes to great lengths to keep them part of the fold.

God leaves the sheep to go searching for the one. He turns the world upside down to find His offspring that has rolled away, and He goes out searching for the one who told Him He was dead and wanted to be away from Him.

It is like Marlin in Finding Nemo. A father who goes out looking for his son.

Section 4: Learn and Engage

Answer these questions in the comm- What are 3 things you learned?
– What is 1 question you still have?
– What part of the lesson did you most identify with?
– What part of the lesson was hardest for you?
– Where have you seen God this week?

Section 5: Closing Prayer

Gracious and most holy God, help us to see you as the loving Father you are. A dad that searches for us when we wander off. A dad that runs to us and holds us in His arms and welcomes us home no matter what. Give the courage to turn around and see you waiting behind us, and let us feel your warm embrace as you welcome us home again!  Amen.

Here is a great song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean: