The God Who Seeks and Saves

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Luke 15:1-10 | April 2 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
April 2
The God Who Seeks and Saves | Luke 15:1-10
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands, could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone, Thou must save, and Thou alone. We turn our hearts and our attention to You and Your Word, knowing, God, that as we have just sung, that if we wept with tears unending, with zeal undiminished, with labors constant in their exertion, they would accomplish nothing to atone for our many, countless sins. We need a Savior. We need You to seek and to find the lost. Thank You, that You have done that for everyone here who believes in You. Now give to us ears that we may hear Your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Luke chapter 15. Luke chapter 15, we’ll be reading verses 1 through 10. There are three parables that go together in Luke chapter 15. Jesus tells the story about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and then most famously about a lost son. As I’m sure Pastor Derek will explore next week, there may in fact be two lost sons, or one who’s lost and needs to be found and one who’s found but seems at times to be lost.

But this morning, or this evening rather, we’re looking at the first of these two.

Luke 15.

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him.” This is Jesus. “And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.””

There is a pattern in Luke’s Gospel of some event or often some question prompting Jesus’ teaching often in the form of parables. We see this especially with the parables. If you have your Bible open, just notice some of this pattern.

Turn back to chapter 10, verse 29: “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?””

That question prompts Jesus to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Or again in chapter 12, verse 13: “Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.””

That statement, that demand of Jesus, prompts Him to tell the parable of the rich fool.

Two chapters over, chapter 14, verse 7: “Now He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noticed how they chose the places of honor.” Then down in verse 12: “He said also to the man who had invited him.” Then you see over in verse 15: “When one of those who reclined at table with Him heard these things, He said to him.”

Over and over, there’s some question, there’s some occasion, something that Jesus sees and He thinks, “You need a story.”

So we have it here in chapter 15. These three parables are prompted by the Pharisees, these are the teachers, the experts in the Law. They would have had the popular books, they would have spoken at conferences, the Pharisees and the scribes. The academics. The scholars. The experts in the languages, in the tradition and the history and the theology. The Pharisees and the scribes grumbled about the company that He keeps.

They are upset about two groups in particular who seem to be fond of Jesus. Grumblers.

It’s worth saying perhaps here before we explore these two groups just to reflect in our own hearts. I didn’t tell my wife I was going to say this, but I live with a, and it won’t surprise you, a gracious, normally cheerful wife, and I on the other hand, among the two of us, have the tendency to look at things with a critical eye, and if there’s one who is going to grumble, it is sadly me. As one of my friends has told me before, “Oh, yes, Kevin, you are compliant and complaining.” So that is true of me sometimes.

Perhaps of you, kind of critical eye, critical spirit. Are you the master at the very loud, obvious sigh. [sigh] You don’t have to say anything more. Your spouse knows, your kids know, everyone knows, or do you know, and some of you kids are very good at this as well, you know how to almost magically roll your eyes all the way back into your head. Everyone knows without saying a word. It’s a grumble.

Here they’re grumbling at Jesus because He is spending time with people of a bad reputation. Now you can fill that in depending on who you are and who you would consider, “Well, those are not the sort of people you should be hanging out with.”

Some set of folks in our country, it might be people that have red MAGA hats on. Other people it might be those who are considered woke. Some group of people it would be folks, look at all the tattoos they have. Somebody else, would you look at how prim and preppy they are?

Whatever sort of group, your particular team or tribe, thinks those, that’s not our team. Those are not the people we spend time with. Jesus is not only spending time with them, He’s receiving them and eating with them.

Well, who are these people? Two categories – sinners, tax collectors. Familiar refrain throughout the Gospels, sinners, tax collectors.

The sinners could refer to any number of people. Some commentators think it’s a reference to common people, non-Pharisees, perhaps those who are not following the oral traditions of the elders. Or it may be an echo of Leviticus, those who are ritually unclean or those who do not follow closely the law of Moses. Or simply those who are not walking in God’s ways. The term “sinners” is generic enough to cover all of those ideas. It was a term used in Mark 14 to describe disobedient outsiders.

Jesus, in fact, says it is enough, the hour has come, the Son of Man, meaning Himself, is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

So it was a real category. There really are people called “sinners.”

When the Pharisees and the scribes grumble, they’re thinking of people who in their eyes are doing the wrong things, and consequently they were considered bad Jews, if real Jews at all. Sinners.

And the second group is a bit easier to pinpoint, the tax collectors. If you’ve spent any time reading the Scriptures, and perhaps if you’re new to the Bible, we’re glad you’re here, you’ll find that the tax collectors are a hated group in Jesus’ day.

Why? Well, we need to understand a little bit how this tax collecting worked. One part of it is it is true throughout history people do not like paying taxes. They don’t like paying taxes. Do you know that the IRS has some excess tax fund? If you ever feel like of your own free will, you want to pay extra taxes, you can go and look up just how much that fills up every year. Not a lot of people saying, “You know what I’d like to do? More money out in taxes.”

So people don’t like taxes, but in particular they had reason not to like the tax collectors in the Roman Empire. As best as we can figure, here’s how it worked. The Roman Empire would farm out these responsibilities. The taxes were usually paid up front to Rome at the beginning of the year and what would happen is you would have an individual, or more likely because an individual wouldn’t be wealthy enough, you would have a group of wealthy people come together. You can almost think of it like a small investment company. They would bid for the right to collect the taxes, and the highest bidder would then pay the amount to Rome and Rome would say, “You go with all of our military might and authority and powers of execution, you go and collect these taxes.”

So perhaps to put it in terms we can understand, maybe there’s a group of five individuals, investment team, they come together and they make the winning bid and they say to Rome, “We will give $1 million to collect the taxes in Capernaum.” And some sort of closed bids and the others were $750, $500 thousand. The winning bid, a million dollars. So they, this small team of investors, would have to pay the money up front to Rome, a million dollars, and then they get to go and collect. As you can imagine, they get to collect whatever they manage to collect from the people without inciting violence to their person or some sort of radical revolt. So the whole system was bound to be rife with corruption.

The problem was not taxes per se, the Bible tells us to pay taxes. The problem was not even with a business scheme where one would make a profit. The tax collectors were despised because normally from start to finish, not only were they collecting taxes, people don’t like that, and they were supporting a foreign ruling power, they didn’t like that, and they had to have interactions with Gentiles, which rendered them unclean… All of those were problems. And on top of that they were almost always thieves and swindlers.

You could do this in many ways. You could set up multiple taxation points, just like if you’re on a toll road today and you have to go through. Well, they would have certain booths or roads in order go to this part of town. They would set up and lo and behold, you didn’t see something there two weeks ago but there they are, collecting your taxes.

They could make false accusations. You could be moving from one region to another and have to declare some goods and they confiscate your goods. Then when you had to pay taxes, the tax collectors come and they don’t have some official appraiser, they’re the appraiser and the tax setter and the tax collector all in one. So they can assess what your goods are worth, what the taxation amount is, and then procure it from you.

There was very little recourse. There was no judicial system that was going to give reprieve to the little person who was cheated and swindled out of their taxes. These people pledged a million dollars, they paid to Rome, then they have the power of the Roman government before them and then it’s just a free for all.

What can they get from their friends, their enemies, their neighbors, their strangers? How can they cheat them? Because whatever now they take, they’ve paid the upfront to Rome, whatever they get now is just to line their own pockets and to prepare to make the plea to do the same thing next year.

So it was by virtual definition, if you were a tax collector, you were someone to be hated and despised. There was little knowledge or understanding of some complex tax laws, impossible to enforce what rules there were, to interpret the regulations to get any sort of legal action against these collectors, and so they would cheat, defraud, steal, swindle. It was a perfectly rigged system that was almost impossible to beat.

How despised were the tax collectors? The Mishnah, which is a document from around 200 A.D. but reflects many of the rabbinical traditions and understands from the time of Jesus, often mentions, “thieves, robbers, and tax collectors” in one breath. They could not be judges, witnesses, or enter the synagogue. The rabbis said a house, this is on top of Levitical laws, the house would be unclean if a tax collector entered into it.

There were stipulations from both the conservative, so-called, and liberal, so-called, Jewish parties of Jesus’ day that it was acceptable to lie to tax collectors. Now don’t go take that one home, April 15 is coming. Should tell the truth, you should pay your taxes. But it was so rigged, there was so much cheating, that both the liberal and the conservative schools said you don’t have to tell the truth because we know that they are absolute scoundrels.

You can understand then that it was not just someone of poor reputation, or even the examples I gave earlier, someone from some other political persuasion or party, or someone who roots for a team that you don’t like. These people were without fail, virtually without fail, these people were up to no good, and Jesus was eating with them.

We should be careful. Sometimes we’re too casual with this and we make it sound like Jesus was just hanging out, belly up to the bar, with drunkards. No, He wasn’t hanging out, if hanging out just means He participates in sinful situations. But He was, let’s not miss the fact, receiving disreputable people who came to Him. Having table fellowship with them.

It was their grumbling, their complaining, that upset Jesus and led Him to tell these three parables.

Usually the first two parables are passed by quickly because the third one is much more famous and longer and Derek will get to that next week and I, we were talking about it this week, and Derek said, “You know what I’m going to do? I really want to get into the first part and the whole context of the parable so…” Sorry, Derek, I just did that for you. But he can remind us of the setting as we look at, that’s, I didn’t mean to do that, but it happens when you go first.

The first two are usually passed over, but when we look at them, we see that there are a number of common themes.

The third, the so-called parable of the prodigal son, usually causes us to focus on perhaps ourselves. Are you the prodigal who needs to return home? Or are you the older brother who is sitting by with arms folded? That last parable focuses, rightly so, our attention on us. Who are you? In fact, Jesus leaves the parable rather open-ended so that the scribes and Pharisees will ask themselves. He doesn’t answer it for them. He wants them to think, “Well, who am I in this story?”

But the first two parables in particular focus not so much on the lost, after all, it’s harder to find a personal resonance with a sheep or with a coin, much easier to do so with these two brothers who are described in such detail.

No, these first two of the three lead us to focus on the character of God. The point is not that Jesus is saying, “Well, God is a shepherd or a woman or a father, but He is in this instance like a shepherd, like this woman, and like this father.” The analogy is with their attitude and the actions they portrayed.

So our outline is very simple. Two things in these two parables, and we’ll tie in the third just a little bit, but two things we learn about God.

First, we learn from these parables, God seeks out sinners.

First He’s described as a shepherd. It’s imagery that’s akin to Isaiah chapter 40, where the shepherd carries tenderly the helpless ewe lamb close to his heart. Here he’s going out in the storm and on the hills and valleys and he comes and he finds this sheep, puts it on his shoulders, carries it home, rejoicing.

I can’t help but think about one of my favorite movies, besides Chariots of Fire, that’s a given, besides The Princess Bride, those are the two Christian movies, is Babe, Babe, with the pig, the sheep dog, the pig that thinks he’s a sheep dog. Really, talking animals. It’s really quite profound. You should go see it sometime. But there’s a scene where the pig who talks, thinks he’s a sheep dog, I know, is very despondent and so he runs away because he’s just finding out what farmers normally do with pigs. So he goes off in the rain and then the real sheep dogs help Farmer Hoggett, yes, that’s his name, go find him and he’s there beside some brook or under some tree and it’s thundering and it’s could, and they bring home this little pig. The farmer nestles him there by the fire. Of course, there’s a very mean, sinister cat who plays a role in it, as cats often do. The farmer dances a little jig for him and warms up the pig by the fire, not in the fire, by the fire, trying to nurse him back to health because he is going to be this triumphant sheep dog at the national trials. It’s a scene, whenever I read this, I think of the tenderness of that farmer, finding a little pig.

Well, here we can imagine a shepherd, looking out, finding this one long lost sheep. You see signs sometimes around your neighborhood, a picture of a cat, plastered all over. Call this number for the cat, for the dog. I’ve told you stories before about our bunnies. They’re always getting out. We’re traipsing through the woods, just yesterday, looking for Taki. We have a bunny named after that nacho thing, finding the bunny and everyone is all out there, all ages, trying to herd this small creature back into its pen.

How much more so does God go out like this shepherd to look for the one sheep that is lost?

It’s compared in the second parable to a woman, searches for a coin, this one small coin, a drachma, equivalent to a denarius probably. Notice what she does. She lights a lamp. She sweeps the whole house. She diligently seeks for it and finds it. She looks for it like a mom looks for something, not like a kid looks for something.

You know how this works. “Mom, where’s my shirt?” “Did you look in the closet?” “Aww, no. I didn’t yet.” Kids don’t often look very well.

This woman knows how to look. As if you had dropped your wedding ring. She’s looking everywhere.

We are always losing things in our house. Someone’s looking high and low. Mom, Dad, where is that hat that has the funny earflaps that go over? Where is the charger for the graphing calculator? Where’s the remote control? Where’s that cute little pig we got for the baby? Where’s my jersey for the meet? We’re always looking, looking, looking for things, sometimes finding.

God is on the lookout. He’s not on the lookout for coins, for jerseys, for cords, but for people.

It’s tempting, isn’t it? You look at your neighbors, your workplace. You think of friends and family members you know, and don’t, don’t verbalize them, don’t point to them, don’t nudge, just you think of them right now. There are people you know in your life. They seem to you hopelessly lost. You feel helpless. And you pray maybe, you’ve just about given up on that, you know just how hard their heart is. And it’s true. We do not know what God will do. We do not have a guarantee. And yet texts like this are to remind us there is One who is seeking. ___ to give us hope, keep praying, keep sharing as we have opportunity.

Brothers and sisters, it should also give us patience and love. Isn’t it tempting when we find people who slander us, who mistreat us, who oppose everything we might stand for as Christians, to just feel like [sound effect], “Good riddance. You’re lost and I hope nobody ever finds you.” But God’s seeking. That’s the nature of God, to seek for the lost sheep on the hill far away, to sweep through the whole house, to find that one lost copper coin.

Do you remember what is the mission of Jesus? How you answer that question is going to shape everything about a church. If you can understand what is the mission of Jesus. Now yes, Jesus did all sorts of really good things, we do all sorts of really good things, we’re salt and light in the world. What in particular did Jesus say when He describes His mission?

Luke 5 – I’ve not come, meaning I’ve not come out in public ministry, to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Now He doesn’t meant that there are actually some who are so righteous they’ve earned their way into heaven and good on you, I don’t need to be concerned. What He means, sort of like He does in verse 7, righteous persons, He’s thinking of those persons who feel so self-assured that they don’t need anything. Jesus says, “Well, no, no, no. If you are so confident you have your life together, if you’re confident that you can do this on your own,” Jesus says, “you’re right. I have nothing to offer you. Go about your business. If you’re all set, if you’re good enough, if you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you, then be about your business. I did not come to call righteous people. If you’re righteous, then let’s see how that works for you. I came,” Jesus said, “to call sinners. Not just to call sinners to a great big party, to call sinners to something very particular. To repentance.”

Remember what He says in Luke chapter 19? For the Son of Man came, again a purpose statement, a mission statement, He came to seek and to save the lost.

I hope you and I have a category of lost-ness.

Sometimes we only want safe lost people and this passage is meant to disabuse us of that notion. Well, I’ll minister to lost people who are exactly like me, who are already pretty much of the same sort of cultural makeup of me.

No, Jesus here is ministering to those lost sinners and tax collectors. Some of us, we will fraternize with the lost as long as it seems rather safe. On the other hand, there are some Christians, they have no problem being edgy. They like to be with the edgy people, but they don’t really consider anyone to be lost.

We use this language sometime and it’s not that it’s entirely wrong – unchurched, de-churched, under-churched, un-engaged. All of those speak to something that’s true, but don’t forget about this much more biblical category – lost. Lost means someone, maybe even someone here tonight. You don’t like that, that’s offensive to you, but that’s Jesus speaking about people in this world. Lost. They may not know it. They may think they’re completely on the right path. They may think they know where they’re going but Jesus says they don’t. They don’t know the way. They’re confused, they’re mistaken.

And what needs to happen for lost people? They need to be found. When you get so lost, I don’t mean you just take a wrong turn and you’re phone is squawking at you and you get back on. No. You’re in the woods somewhere and you have no signal. You ever have that experience? Somewhere and you see the… I had that once or twice, and the sun is setting. Especially before the time when everybody had phones and could tell you what to do in life and where to go. And the sun is setting and it’s getting dark, and you get this panicked feeling as you should. In about 20 minutes, me being really lost is going to mean really big trouble. I need somebody to find me. I need somebody to help me. Somebody to rescue me.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.

Do you really mean that? That’s some strong language. A wretch like me. I was lost, I need a Savior, I needed a rescuer. And He found me. I was blind and I see.

Do we have a passion for seeking as God has a passion for seeking? That’s why He was spending time with tax collectors and sinners. That’s what Jesus shows about God in these three parables, which was so much the chagrin of the Pharisees and the scribes. They did not like this Jesus. Ah, tut tut, Jesus with those tax collectors, for shame. Dirty people.

But God loves to seek out dirty people. He loves to seek out sinners. If He didn’t seek out dirty, sinful people, how would any of us have been found?

That’s the first thing about God. God seeks out sinners.

Here’s the second. Only two points.

God seeks out sinners, number one, and number two, God rejoices when sinners are found.

This actually, I think, is the singular point to these three parables. If there’s one big idea, I know the prodigal son has lots of application, but there’s one singular point. It is to contrast the grumbling of the Pharisees with the gladness of God. You see it? Verse 7 – I tell you there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.

Or again in verse 7 – just so I tell you there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

And at the very end, verse 32, the father said it was fitting to celebrate and be glad for this. Your brother was dead and is alive, he was lost and is found.

The gladness of God in contrast to the grumbling of the Pharisees.

Notice in each of these the rejoicing is public.

Verse 6 – when he comes home with his sheep, he calls together his friends, his neighbors. He says to them, “Rejoice with me, I found my sheep that was lost.”

It’s public rejoicing.

You see verse 9 – and when she has found it, what does she do? She calls together her friends, neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me. I found the coin.”

Now we know from the parable of the prodigal son the father does the same thing – kill the fattened calf, strike up the band, we’re going to have a party. This wayward son of mine is home.

It is the nature of true joy to overflow. It’s the nature of unbounded gladness that you want to share it with others.

I don’t know if you should or want to know this about your pastor, but I do have among some people the reputation as being the guy who always has some funny YouTube clip to show on his phone. There it is. It’s true. Did you see this one? Did you see this funny one? Why is it when you have those two, why do you want to send it on to someone? Why do you call and say, “Honey, honey, come here. Kid, look at this one.” Because you want to share it.

Why is it, have you ever noticed this in a group, people are laughing, somebody says something funny. You sometimes, you look at each other. You look. There’s even just the eye contact. You want to share a moment of joy. That’s why it’s powerful when we sing together. It’s why a team wins a championship they have a ticker tape parade. It is the nature of true joy to want to go public. You can’t hold in joy. It rejoices.

Why? Well, again, it’s crystal clear. Verse 7 – there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. Verse 10 – there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Then over in the parable of the prodigal son, again it says, verse 21 – the son said to him, “Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his son, “Bring quickly the best robe. Put it on him and put a ring on his hand, his shoes and feet.” Verse 24 – my son was dead and is alive again, is lost and he was found.

Over and over again, it is joy over sinners repenting. Sinners repenting. Not simply, the Gospel is not simply a message of “let’s all come together and get along.” The Gospel is not just a message of “belonging,” it is a message of faith and repentance.

Jesus is not just calling to sinners, “you feel bad about yourself, come to Me and you don’t have to feel bad about yourself.” That’s not the Gospel.

No, Jesus says, “Come, repent, and enter into the joy of Your Master.”

In each of these cases, the point is that the sinner accepts the consequences of his choices. He offers no excuses. He makes confession. He makes no claims. He throws himself on God’s mercy.

The Puritans sometimes made this point, and it sounds scandalous at first, but I want you to hear it. It is as much an act of grace to repent as not to sin in the first place.

Now careful, it almost sounds like, “Well, go ahead and sin so that grace may abound.” Paul says may it never be. But the point is well put. It is a profound act of grace when sinners repent.

It was the mistake of the older brother that he thought, “Well, the real grace is never to have gone off in the first place.” God says, “It’s just as much grace to bring you home.”

Repentance brings God joy.

If you want to make God happy, hate your sins. Our whole world does not understand this. Our whole world says, “God is so happy with you that you don’t have to think about your sins.” The Gospel is just the opposite. God would be so glad, there would be a ticker-tape parade in heaven, if you would see your sin, own your sin, repent of your sin. I was wrong, God, I trust in You, not myself. I look to You for all my righteousness.

So the response in each case, repentance leads to what? In every instance, restoration. The sheep returns to the fold. The coin returned to its place. The son reconciled to his father. From destitution to restoration, because God loves to seek and there is such joy when the sinner is found.

I preached on Luke 15 by my records just once before in pastoral ministry. I did all three parables together. It was ten years ago. I made this note. My son, oldest son who is now 19 would have been just 9. I don’t usually make a habit of looking for exegetical help from my children in doing a sermon, but this occasion I was going through, and I said, “Well, what do you have to say? Anything?” And I wrote down what he said. It is not the same to have 1 out of 2, or 99 out of 100, or even 9 out of 10, because it makes the biggest difference to have even one small thing missing.

We do have to work on the progression of fractions there, from 1 out of 2 to 99 out of 100, or even 9 out of 10, so the math came later. But I wrote it down because I thought that’s quite a good statement. It makes the biggest difference to have even one small thing missing. Even with a gaggle of children, with nine. We just took eight home and that one’s somewhere at the church. Well, at the church we might actually feel like one of you would probably do something, but you go find that. You can’t have the one thing missing.

So when you find what is lost, there is such joy. You just picture the parade and the balloons and the confetti.

The only parades I’ve been in was either in high school in the marching band, or in Orange City, Iowa at the Tulip Time float. Some of you can tell me your experiences on the Tulip Time float. I was on the domini float, that’s the Dutch word for pastor, it means Lord. It’s not a bad term, I guess, but I truly was on the parade in a robe throwing out candy to the children. Just very confusing for people to understand. That’s what you do in Dutch northwest Iowa.

But you imagine the parades that you’ve seen, parades are meant to be joyous occasions, whether it’s a Thanksgiving or Christmas or Fourth of July or some championship, some celebration. There’s food, there’s celebration, there’s music, there’s bands, there’s confetti, there’s floats, balloons, there’s maybe even pastors in robes. But it’s joyous, it’s exciting, it’s a time of great celebration.

And the picture here is of heaven’s unceasing, never tiring joy. Every time a sinner, maybe one of you, maybe someone you’re praying for, will repent and come, it’s as if God and all the angels, “Do it again!” and they never get tired. Another parade? Yes! Another parade! Through the celestial city, on the golden bricks of pavement. Do it again. Another parade. Why? A sinner has repented.

If the shepherd will go off after a lost coin, if a woman will look for her, or the shepherd for the sheep, a woman for her coin, a father will welcome his son, how much more will God search out the lost and rejoice when they are found?

We have a God who seeks out sinners and absolutely revels, rejoices, in their return.

So let it be for us, Christ Covenant, to reflect this God we serve and love and worship, this God who has saved a wretch like us. Let our lives be marked.

We should ask the question – are they marked by this experience and this expectation of joy?

You have sinners in your life, no doubt, as you rub shoulders with them, do you think, “Well, some of these, Lord, some of these might just come to You.” Do you think that? After all, you did.

No joy, no kingdom. These parables are meant to be a stark contrast between an attitude of disdain and censoriousness and one of great celebration and rejoicing. God is radically committed to His joy and our joy. He is seeking and for all of His elect He will find. It’s worth asking – have you long since lost the joy of your salvation? Has it been a while, and I know there are many, many toils and snares, but has it been a while since anything in the Christian life felt something like a celebration? Do you know, can you experience, just how pleased God is with you when you repent? If you have unfinished business to do with God tonight, it would be the source of great satisfaction for you and joy in heaven if you were to come to Him humbly and repent. He does not glower upon you. He smiles, yes, strike up the band.

He is pleased with those who never leave, provided they live with grace upon grace, and He is pleased with those prodigals who return home. Our God is a God of exuberant joy. He seeks, He finds, He rejoices. Let us do the same.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we give thanks for Your Word for You are the God who seeks and saves. Each one of us, whether from remarkable circumstances or the privilege of growing up in a Christian home, You did a work of regeneration in our hearts, saved us from obvious worldly sins, drinking, drugs, promiscuity. You saved us from worldly less obvious sins, pride, vanity, judgmentalism. Lead us to repentance. Lead any here wandering sheep back to the fold. Seek and find and let us rejoice. In Jesus’ name. Amen.