Sunday, September 12, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and the Lost: Part Two"

“Jesus and the Lost (Part Two)”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
September 12, 2010
Luke 15:11-32

Last week, we started a mini-series within our “Certain of Jesus” sermon series called “Jesus and the Lost.”

Last week, in part one, we heard Jesus tell two very similar stories about lost things that got found.

What were they?  The lost...sheep. And the lost...coin.  Right.

And in each of these stories, there was pattern: something that was lost, there was a desperate search, and when the lost article was found, there was what?  A party.  A celebration.

Well, today, in part 2 (and there are going to be 3 parts), we’re going to start in on a third story from Jesus about something that is lost and then is found. 

But this time, it’s going to be a person.  It’s not just going to be a sheep or a coin or some other object.

It’s going to be a young man.

It’s going to be a son.

The lost son.

This is one of our Lord’s most famous stories.  We’ve all heard it.  It’s often called the parable of the “Prodigal Son.”

There are two parts to the story.  We’re just going to read the first part this week.  It’s verses 11 through 24 of Luke chapter 15.

Now, before we look at the first part of Jesus’ story, we have to remind ourselves about verses 1 and 2.

Remember verses 1 and 2?  Last week, we said that if you miss verses 1 and 2 then you can miss the whole point of what Jesus is trying to do here.

In verses 1 and 2, we found out that there are two groups of people who are listening to Jesus.

Who are they?  Vv.1-2.

“Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

There are two groups.

The black hats and the white hats.

The black hats are the despised tax collectors (evil men) and the people labeled simply “sinners.”  These were the scum of the earth.

We might call them, the Trash.

The white hats were the clean ones.  The Pharisees (we might call them the “church going religious folk”) and the teachers of the law (the Bible professors).

These were the folks who did good and were morally upright.

And they were disgusted with Jesus for hanging around with the wrong people.

Remember that?

We’ve got to remember that to understand why Jesus tells this story.

It’s a story about a family.

A Father with 2 sons.   An older son and a younger son.  And the younger son is restless and greedy and selfish.  V.11

“Jesus continued: ‘There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.”

Now, that is a shocking sentence.

We don’t get that, because we don’t know much about this kind of a culture.  But that is a shocking thing for a younger son to say. Think about this.

When do you normally get your “share of an estate?”

When your dad dies, right?

This son is as good as saying, “I’d rather you were dead, Dad.”

What I really care about is the money.  Give it to me now.

Did the Father have to do this?

No.  He didn’t.  The Father lets this young man go his own way and he sends him off in style.

Typically, how much of an estate would a younger son of 2 sons get?  Does anyone know?

One third.  The older son typically got 2 shares and the younger one 1 share.  If there were 3 sons, it would be less than that.

What did this Father have to do to get 1/3 of his own estate liquidated to give to the younger son?  We aren’t told, but it was probably quite a sacrifice.

And the younger son goes off.

He gets lost.  V.13

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.”

We can just imagine this phase of his life.

He was living it up. It was pleasure.  It was people.  It was popularity.

And it was all squandered.

All of it.  V.14

“After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.”

Now, there are three things that I want to point out about this famous story today.  And here’s the first one.


Sin lies to us.

Sin deceives us.

Sin says, “Come here, this is good stuff!  You’ll love it!”

But read the fine print.

Sin always has consequences–and not just for the sinner!

This young man is supposed to disgust you.

Don’t feel sorry for this young man yet.

See him as a sinner.

He just told his dad that he wishes that he was dead and he’s run off and spent 1/3 of his dad’s money in a short amount of time in wild living.

That’s supposed to disgust us.

There is nothing pretty about this. 

It’s wrong. 

Remember who is listening to this story.

This is for the black hat people.

Jesus loves them, but He doesn’t love what they’ve done.

And there will be consequences for our sin.  V.14 again.

“After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.”


Now, I don’t know how you feel about pigs. I love to eat them, so someone needs to keep them!

But Jesus was a Jew telling this story to Jews.  The white hat guys hadn’t ever in their life had pork.  It was the ultimate in unclean.

And now in Jesus’ story this young man feeds the pigs.  And worse than that, he wishes he was one!  V.16

“He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”

The disgusting consequences of sin.

If you are pursuing sin right now, you might be living it up.  But there will be a time, it will be sooner or it will be later, when you regret what you have done.

We’ve all had that experience.

This young man hit the very bottom.

And he repented.  V.17

“‘When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.'  So he got up and went to his father.”

Stop there for a second.

This young man faced up to what he had done.

He repented.

He swallowed his pride, humbled himself and set off to seek his father.

He plans in his heart a speech of repentance and asks, not to be reinstated as son, but merely to be pitied and included as a hired man.

He is repentant.

Now, we’ve all heard this story told many many many times.

But what happens in verse 20 is the shocking twist of the story.

We all love a story with a twist that changes everything, don’t we?

Have you ever seen a movie where you think this is what’s going on and then all of a sudden the story turns around and everything is different?

This father has been spurned and burned.

He’s been told that he’s only worth the money he can give to this son.

He’s been left in his old age.
He’s been offended and sinned against.

What do you think the black hats think that this father will do?

What do you think that the white hats will think that father will do?

Well, the first two stories might have gotten them somewhat ready for this.

There was something lost.

But, in the first two stories, there was desperate search. 

And there hasn’t really been a search in this one.  Or has there?
Look at verse 20.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

His father saw him from a long way off.

I think that father searched the sky line every single day for his lost son.

I had a pastor once who said that this father would always say, “I’ll work the front 40 today.  You work the back 40. I want to watch for something.”

There was a search.

And it wasn’t for just a coin or something morally neutral that was lost.

It was for a rebel.  For an offending party.  For a prodigal.

And that’s not what would shock Jesus’ audience.

Do you know what would shock the audience the most?

The idea of this man running.

In the ancient Near East, the patriarch of the family never ran.

You came to him.  He didn’t come to you.

But this father ran.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

Did you see the painting that Kathy Moore did of this scene?

Don’t leave today without checking it out in the foyer.

“[H]e ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”


The father is the center of this story.

He accepts the son.

He loves the son.

He forgives the son.

He reinstates the son.

He hugs the son.

The very son who had offended him.

The Father in this story is an illustration of God.

The Father’s compassionate heart for the lost is a picture of God’s heart for the lost.

Lost people who repent find the amazing grace of God.

And this son is repentant.  He gives his prepared speech in verse 21.

“‘The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'”

But the Father hardly even hears this confession.  V.22

“But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.”

Amazing grace!

He is not only welcomed home, but treated as a son again.

Sinners need to know this.

God is amazingly gracious.

He loves to pour out grace on those who DO NOT DESERVE IT!

If you are not yet a believer in Jesus, run to Him and be saved.

You’ll find that He runs to you and wants to save you.


And for all who do repent, they find amazing grace.

For all of us who are believers, we need to live lives full of thanksgiving, because we were this younger son.

Thank you, Lord, for your amazing grace!

Had this son paid for his sin?


Sometimes, we think, well, this young man has suffered enough. He realizes the folly of his ways.  He had to eat the pig slop.

So, that’s payment enough.

No. Those were the consequences.

But the Father forgave the debt.

And we know how He could do that.  We know how God forgives our debt.

Not through our feeling miserable about our sins, but by the blood of Jesus which covers them.

Amazing grace!

And Amazing Joy!


Same pattern we’ve seen all along.

Something was lost.
There was a desperate search.
And then there was a party!

V.22 again.

“The father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. [The one we’ve been getting ready for a party!]  Let's have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.”

The Kingdom of God is a party!

And the theme of the party is joy at the lost being found.

That’s how God feels about repentant sinner returning to Him.

Now, remember who was listening to this story.

White hats and black hats.

Which ones were finding the father’s joy?

The black hats.

The white hats are like the older brother.

There is more to this story, and we’ll study it together next week.  Verses 25-32.

That’s for the white hats.

But, right now, just think about the joy of the black hats at hearing this story.

The Father?

God the Father throws a party for us?

He sure does.

Let’s celebrate!

And let’s search. 

We’ve got to stay in the hunt for those who are lost and are not yet found.

Because without Jesus we are dead and we need to be made alive again.

Did you help with the search at all this week?

Who do you need to search for?

To pray for and to look for opportunities to talk about Jesus with?

Do you remember this fishbowl?

In the Fall of 2007, we put this fishbowl up front here to remind ourselves that we need to seek the lost. 

Many of us put names on little Fish cards of people who needed the Lord.

And we were going to pray for them every week throughout the Fall and some of us even fasted once a week for those names on the Fish Cards.

I put in a number of cards myself.

And on one of those cards, I put the name of a young man who seemed to have deep questions about God that showed that he had lost his way.

And three years ago, I prayed for him all Fall.

His name was John Hubler.

And today, you’ve heard his testimony of how God is at work in His life.

Let’s celebrate!

Let’s join the Father’s joy!

“This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.”

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom