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Not all who wander are lost, not all who are near are found

26/07/2017 - Pastor Young

We looked at Luke 15 this past Sunday, and at three parables that highlighted the overarching theme of "lost and found in Jesus". Each parable shows a main character, representing God, giving special attention to the one who has strayed away. 

The first two parables tell of a lost sheep and a lost coin, and the celebration and rejoicing that follows their recovery. A party is thrown out of joy for the return of the sheep that's gone astray, and the coin that has been found, which stands in contrast with how the Pharisees and scribes have reacted toward the lost being found throughout Luke.

Interestingly, a detail that goes sometimes unnoticed is the fact that a sheep that strays into the wilderness may wander far from home, but a coin in these days would not roll very far, especially with imperfect cutting methods – it was still in the house. In both these stories, however, the sheep and the coin are found. God's heart is for those that are near, and those that are far. 

But wait a minute – how can something that is near be found? A sheep that wanders too far is in imminent danger of death, but what about a coin that still remains within a house?

A helpful way that I've found to consider this is to think of what it would mean for me if I lost a bundle of cash in my home somewhere. Yes, it remains in my house – but until it can be found, it is of no use to me. It is as though it's no longer mine, whether or not it's somewhere nearby. 

The final parable that we looked at was the parable of the prodigal son. In it, a lost son is restored to the family, as he returns to his father. His father immediately accepts him back fully, and the celebration is on, just like with the sheep and the coin from the previous parables. The one that was lost is now found, and the son that was dead is now alive. 

While all this is happening, the older brother returns from his work, and upon realising that his younger brother is back, he becomes furious. He can't bring himself to go into his home to celebrate, and so he remains outside of the house. 

The insider is now an outsider. The one who was near is lost. 

The focus of the first two parables seems to be the way the main character goes searching for the lost sheep and the lost coin, both far and near. In the final parable, there is a reversal, as the son who was far returns and is met by the father, restored, and is now inside the house. And the one who had been near has now made himself far, putting himself out of the house, and even distancing himself from his family (he calls his younger brother "this son of yours," disowning him and verbally severing his relationship with his father also). 

We are at a point in our series on The Gospel of Jesus According to Luke where we have been walking with the writer for some time. We have seen some miraculous signs, some undesirables coming to know the Lord, and a hostile reception from the religious leaders who should have recognised Jesus as Messiah. What are some of the things that the Holy Spirit is pressing on your heart as we journey together with Jesus to Jerusalem? Does your heart rejoice for those who have come to know the Lord from among us? 

We are all in need of redemption. We are all lost until we are found in Jesus. And it is by grace, not by merit, that we are found in Him. 

As Luke 15 closes, the father addresses the older brother as "my son," reestablishing his relationship with him. Although the older brother was also lost, and also prodigal (wasteful) in failing to see that all that was his father's was his, and that he ought to have used it to celebrate the return of his younger brother. 

If you are, like me, a sinner saved by grace and one who calls Jesus Lord, then we have an amazing opportunity and privilege in being able to celebrate the fact that we gain brothers and sisters into our family. Those who were dead are now alive, and those who were lost are now found – what greater reason to celebrate?

We also most likely have a heavy burden on our shoulders and in our hearts. We have family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues who are lost and not yet found. But we can be brothers and sisters who join in the search for them, who look everywhere and do everything to gain them back, and constantly pray for their return. We can be those who welcome them back with open arms, not casting eyes of judgement upon whatever we may know or suspect or have heard about them, but rather celebrate the fact that our family has grown.

If you yourself have not yet been found, then here is your call to return. The Father is waiting to welcome you home. Your brothers and sisters want to rejoice and celebrate your return.

What is lost must be sought until it’s found. And we are all lost. We are all in need of this great Saviour, Jesus Christ. See, even in displaying His vast love for His sons, God gave up His own Son to die for us. A payment had to be made to atone for our sins, and that was in the blood of Jesus. He died on that cross for us, to set our relationship right before God, taking away the punishment of our sins – so that our slates can be clean.

We are all lost, and we are all in need of redemption, and this redemption is found in Jesus Christ alone.

Seeking the lost, celebrating the found with you,

Pastor Young

P.S. Here is a good video of this section of Luke from the guys at The Bible Project, which might help you visualise what's happening: