Welcome to our Bring a Friend Day! Thank-you for being here! We’re so glad you came!
After our service this morning everyone please stay for food and fellowship to follow. We’ll be dismissing all our guests to go first.
Let’s jump right into the lesson today: Luke 15 gives us an astonishing message about friendship. That is friendship between Jesus, the Son of God, and sinners. It shows us a picture of the beauty of God’s love and the ugliness of self-righteousness. This event all started because Jesus was so friendly with and attracting the wrong kind of people.
Verses 1 tell us that tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to hear him. Why do you suppose tax collectors and sinners would do something like that? What did they see in Jesus that made them want to gather around Him? Why don’t we see more tax collectors and sinners gathering around Jesus’ followers today? Are we presenting Jesus and His words and will in a way that tax collectors and sinners would want to come hear Him?
Verse 2 shows us that not everyone was happy about this. At least not everyone was positively impressed. Luke tells us that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Isn’t that interesting? First of all, these Pharisees and teachers of the law were also coming to hear Jesus. But they saw themselves as better than these tax collectors and sinners, did they not? When they looked up to heaven and prayed, they thanked God that they were not like other men. They reminded God about how good they were and what they did for God. Jesus tells a story about this in Luke 18:9-14. Here Jesus addresses these Pharisees and teachers of the law were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else.
Let me tell you something: the hardest person to save is the person that doesn’t think he or she needs to be saved.
You see, Jesus came here on a mission to save sinners. He didn’t come here to reward the righteous.
So, Jesus, perhaps overhearing the Pharisees words tells three lost and found parables.
Verses 3-8 “Suppose one of you has a 100 sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the 99 in open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts in on his shoulders and goes home and calls all his friends and neighbors together to celebrate saying, “Rejoice with me! I have found my lost sheep!” Jesus then says, “I tell you, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Hmmmm! What’s Jesus trying to tell us here about God and sinners? God cares about every single one of us, does He not? If someone is missing, God wants them back. God has a shepherd’s heart for we the sheep of His pasture, does He not? Shouldn’t we join Him in sharing His concern? Shouldn’t we do something to find God’s lost sheep? Isn’t that what Jesus commissioned His people to do? Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.
Jesus continues to drive home his point. He’s got the men’s attention here, now he gets the attention of the women.
Verses 8-10 “Or suppose a woman has 10 silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls all her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me! I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Now… This is the same song, second verse, is it not? Notice what the shepherd and the woman did when they found what was lost. They both called together friends and neighbors to celebrate, right? Jesus wants us to get the point from this that God is like that. God has a heavenly party every time a sinner comes home! How’d you like to make God happy? Go find one of his lost children and bring them home! Or, how about this: If you are one of God’s lost children, come home!
Jesus isn’t finished. He puts the icing on the cake with one more parable. The first one had a hundred sheep and a shepherd, the second had ten coins and a woman, this last parable tells us about two sons and a father. In this parable Jesus shows us that the Father loves BOTH of His boys, and BOTH of them needed to come home.
Why should you and I care about and try to seek out and bring sinners back to God?
First, we are all sinners. The apostle Paul said, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I AM chief. Not was chief. Are you better than Paul? Are you more valuable to God than other sinners? Perhaps you are closer to God than other sinners but be careful that you don’t despise anyone that Jesus came here to save. Perhaps you’ve come home and are alive again and saved! That’s wonderful! But don’t close the door behind you or look down on others who haven’t come home yet, instead call for them to come home too. That leads me to number 2.
Second, all sinners are part of our family, our brothers and sisters. God made all of us in His image and likeness, did He not? Every human being is not only a neighbor, but a family member. That’s how Jesus treated sinners who came to Him. Perhaps that’s what attracted them to Him. Jesus loves us sinners! And He shows it without compromising anything of His holiness as the Son of God.
I just love how God makes things so simple. Not easy, simple. Our world has one problem and it is sin. There is only one solution and that is Jesus Christ. Our job is to connect the dots, us with Jesus and others with Jesus.
God gives us two great laws and Jesus tells us that all the other laws of God hang on these two. Say them with me: 1. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. 2. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Maybe instead of a bring a friend day, we need to have a bring a friend life. Let me finish by sharing with you a tragic story as an example of how the world treats its friends.
Timothy John Piazza (September 25, 1997 – February 4, 2017) died as the result of a hazing two days earlier at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Pennsylvania State University. I looked up Fraternity: the state or feeling of friendship and mutual support within a group.
synonyms: brotherhood, fellowship, kinship, friendship, (mutual) support, solidarity, community, union, togetherness.
Piazza was a 19-year-old sophomore engineering student at Pennsylvania State University. He was a pledge of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at the university. On the night of February 2, 2017, while undergoing hazing rituals for the fraternity, Piazza, on an essentially empty stomach, drank large amounts of alcohol in a short time as part of an obstacle course called “The Gauntlet”, which required each pledge to drink from a bottle of vodka, drink a beer, and finally drink from a bag of wine. It later was revealed that Piazza took prescription anti-depressants, which contributed to his inebriation. The fraternity was supposed to be alcohol-free after a suspension in 2009.
In this state of intoxication, he fell on the basement stairs of the house and was knocked unconscious. He was carried to a couch, where surveillance cameras captured the formation of a large and obvious bruise on his left abdomen. One fraternity member tried to convince the others that Piazza needed immediate medical help, but was ignored.
Some time later, Piazza regained consciousness and rolled off the couch. Three brothers picked him up and “slammed” him back onto the couch. Security footage shows brothers slapping Piazza in the face, punching him in the stomach, and pouring beer on him, but he remained unconscious and unresponsive.
Hours later they finally did call for medical help but it was too late. This prodigal never made it home.
He was basically killed by his fraternal brothers.
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and bring brothers home. Instead of being welcomed, those who should have received Jesus, rejected Him, arrested Him, spit upon Him, beat Him, mocked and finally crucified Him. Jesus was killed by His brothers. He didn’t die accidentally. It was murder, intentional, despicable, unadulterated murder. But His death has an amazing twist to it. He came here to save sinners by dying for us, and because of us. And He did it so we can see how horrible our sins are. That’s what killed Him. Our sins. That’s what He was paying for on that cross. Before we get too angry at those frat boys, we need to take a look in the mirror and realize we’ve all done something just as terrible. And God takes this and turns it on its head to pay for our sins and awaken faith in Him who gave His life for us. Jesus on the cross is God calling us sinners home.