Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Reason to Rejoice! 9/15/2013
Dear friend,

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

As Jesus continued towards Jerusalem and to His death on the cross, desiring to gather souls unto Himself, some felt safe approaching Him while others murmured against Him for the way He was going about His business. We see two groups of people in our text today, those who drew near Him and those who followed Him at a distance, with the latter often finding fault with Him. Those who drew near Him were despised by the Pharisees and scribes, who accused Jesus of receiving sinners and even eating with them.

Jesus again used this as an opportunity to teach His hearers of that day by relating to them 3 parables which speak to the recovery/gathering of the lost. He speaks of the finding 1 of 100, the finding of 1 of 10 and finishes with the finding of 1 of 2. They were lost, but now were found.

As we seek to understand the lessons in this portion of the Scriptures today, may we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear that which He wishes to teach us today concerning His gathering heart toward the lost. He seeks until He finds; when He finds the lost He has great joy, furthermore, He calls upon the neighbors to rejoice with Him and there is also great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, or over one sinner who turns towards the Lord......

Oh Lord, please pour out your Spirit into our hearts today so that we would be revived, refreshed, and revitalized.......in our relationship with you....May we hear what you would say to us through your Word today.

KJV Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

The last part the last verse in chapter 14 reads thus: "He that has ears, let him hear."

Luke then begins chapter 15 of his gospel by telling us that the publicans (tax collectors) and sinners drew near to Jesus for to hear Him. If we connect the two verses, it appears that they felt safe to approach Him and were not given the impression by Him that they would be turned away. While we do not know what they thought of Jesus, nevertheless, they felt free to draw close to Him...

On the other hand, were they free to approach the Pharisees and scribes or not? It does not appear that they did, for was the self righteousness of the leaders a turn off to come to them? Would they feel judged by the attitude of the leaders? Let us look at another passage, which comes later in this gospel which gives us further insight into the contrast between the two people groups.

Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Both men were worshipping in the temple, but there was a substantial difference in their focus. The first looked to his own works as reason for thankfulness while the other looked into himself and found nothing but sin. The latter was justified over the first one, for in order to be lifted up by God one must first humble himself.

Jesus now addresses the two people groups by telling two stories in parabolic form....and He carefully weaves the story to bring to light the inability of the Pharisees and the scribes to see the soul value of the tax collectors and the sinners.

3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Those hearing this story would be very familiar with the metaphorical language concerning sheep from the Old Testament scriptures. The shepherds were responsible for taking care of the sheep. He is emphasizing the value of one soul by asking the question in this way: Which of you would not leave all the other sheep to go find the one? How long would you keep looking for it? Until you found it, He says.
He goes on to say that when the lost sheep is found, there would be much rejoicing by the shepherd as it was brought back on His shoulders for restoration purposes. Not only would the shepherd rejoice, but the rejoicing would be contagious as he shared the joy of finding the lost one with his friends and neighbors, calling upon them to rejoice with him at the finding of the lost one.

He then says: Likewise, there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine that need no repentance. We recall that earlier there was a publican who was called by Jesus to follow him. Let us go back to that portion.

Luke 5:27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.
28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.
30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

As we consider this, what do we conclude? Who are the ninety and nine in the wilderness that need no repentance? Are they those who are quite satifisfied in their own righteousness? Or are they those who are walking with the Lord in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit? It is not clear, but application could certainly be made to the Pharisees and scribes by comparing our text to the portion in chapter 5 which we have placed above.

8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

The second parable is somewhat similar, with the exception being that nothing is said about her joy at finding the lost coin, but yet by calling on her friends and neighbors, it would seem that she was bubbling over with joy at the find. She had sought her lost coin with diligence, found it and in the presence of angels therw was joy over the sinner that had repented...............

How are we to understand that which is being emphasized here by Jesus? There are a number of points that can be gained, but what is He really driving at in these two parables? Let us prayerfully consider this...

He seems to be pointing out to the leaders of the Jews that He came to seek and to find those who are lost. They have lost their ability to recognize what lostness is and by using these two parables he hopes to cause them so see that their lack of caring for the publicans and sinners is an indication of their blindness to their sin.

What caused them to be lifted up in their own eyes? Most likely because they had become a part of a hierarchy which made it easy for them to be part of a system of religion. They did not understand the love of God for the world and for the lost sinners of the world. They thought that they were in the right and that the publicans and the sinners were to be looked down upon as those who God did not care about.

Often times we are quick to forget the value of each human soul and in our religious system find ourselves prone to going through the motions. I have been thinking a lot about the contrast that is being continually displayed before us as we go through the gospel of Luke: The religious establishment and the seeking and gathering heart of Jesus. When we become too entrenched in religion we tend to lose sight of the seeking and gathering heart of Jesus.

Jesus is pointing to Himself in these parables as they Great Shepherd who came to seek and to save. We are all like sheep who have gone astray, have become lost and He has come to find us so that we could be restored. In both stories, there is a sense of joy in His heart at finding us, that joy is shared by our friends and neighbors and in heaven there is rejoicing because we have been found by Christ.

God began to seek us since we became lost in the Garden of Eden, and He has never ceased in that mission. By our fallen human nature we often become blind to our sin and begin to look down on others as greater sinners than ourselves, which is caused by forgetting who we are and who Christ is. We are the chief of sinners and Christ is the Greatest Pardoner. When we lose sight of our sin, we lose sight of our need for Christ and His forgiveness.

KJV Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

May the Spirit give us ears to hear and eyes to see what He is teaching here. May each of us in our own station in life be quieted before Him so that we could hear Him speak to us.

In Christ's love,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 15 Sep 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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