The Joy Of The Finder

Luke 15:1-3
1 “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying…….”
(Jesus teaches in parables)
These are three of the most wonderful parables in the whole Bible. They are three stories of lost items:  1) The lost sheep; 2) The lost coin; and 3) The lost son, better known as The Prodigal Son.  All three have one thing in common: THE JOY OF THE FINDER!
From Plain To Parables.
At the end of the previous chapter, Luke 14, Jesus had been conversing with the scribes and Pharisees.  Up to this point in time, He had spoken to them plainly and openly, revealing Himself in His three-fold glory.  He showed them that He was the greatest of all Prophets, the Highest of all Priests, and the King of kings.  Sadly, these self-righteous, hard-hearted people completely rejected Him.  You can clearly see this change in Matthew 12 and 13.
He began to teach in everyone in parables for a VERY good reason. This topic is covered in more depth in the article below if you are interested:
As Jesus begins to tell them these three parables, look who came near and were listening in:  All the tax collectors and the sinners.  Through these stories, He so beautifully illustrated “True repentance.”
The Lost Sheep.
The shepherd in this story has 100 sheep.  When He goes to check on them, He finds that one is missing.  So, He left the 99 and went to search for the lost one.
This is not your average keeper of sheep!  Do you know anyone who would leave the majority of his flock to search for a stray?  Most would just forget about the lost one, cut his losses, and continue with the remaining sheep.  Not this Shepherd.  No!  He left the 99 to go out and look for one:  Jesus is His name!
Then He said to the Pharisees “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than 99 “just persons who need no repentance.”
(The Lost Sheep)
Tongue In Cheek.
Really? 99 “just persons” who need NO repentance?  AS IF!  I’m not buyin’ it.  Church, has there EVER, at ANY time, been even ONE just person anywhere, in the history of the entire world, that NEVER needed repentance?  I DON’T THINK SO!  So why did Jesus say that?

Remember to whom He was speaking: The Pharisees.  It’s tongue-in-cheek…..and they knew it.  They knew this story was directed at them, and they hated Him all the more for it.
Hypocrites.
There never was, never is and never will be even ONE “Just person” who needs no repentance,” let alone 99.  These self-righteous, self-assured hypocrites were the ones who needed to repent; to “Metanóia: Change their minds,” in regard to how they thought about God just as much as the sinners who were listening in.  The difference was, the sinners knew they were lost; the Pharisees did not.
They knew that Jesus was talking about them and they were seething with anger underneath their religious façade.  Afterward, they sought even more zealously for ways to discredit or, better yet, destroy Him.  Not so the sinners and tax collectors.  They rejoiced at His words and loved Him more!  They could see His love for them.
How Did The Sheep Repent?
So tell me, Church: How did the sheep “REPENT?” Did he say, “Father in heaven, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I’m nothing but a rotten sinner.  Please forgive me, I beg you?”  Uh, no.  Sheep can’t talk.  All they can say is “Baa, baa, baa…..Yet, Jesus calls this “REPENTANCE.”
How is it repentance?  Well, the sheep could have run from the Shepherd, but he didn’t.  He allowed himself to be picked up.  He allowed himself to be placed on Jesus’ shoulders.  He consented to be carried.  There were no words, obviously, since sheep can’t talk.  But in consenting to rest on the strong shoulders of The Good Shepherd, there was a “Change of mind:  Repentance.”
The Real Hero.
You see , the hero of the story isn’t the sheep, is it?  IT’S THE SHEPHERD!  He’s the One Who searched for the sheep, Who found the sheep, Who picked up the sheep, Who carried home the lost sheep and threw a big party, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!”  Five things He did:  That’s the number of GRACE!  What a Shepherd!  What a Savior!
The Lost Coin.
Next, Jesus told a story about a lost coin.  Why a coin?  Because on it’s face, you see an image engraved.  You and I, who are made in the “image”of God, lost that image when Adam fell. Jesus came and restored it to us.

9″And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’

(The Lost Coin)
The obvious question is, “How did the coin “repent?” Yet, Jesus said there is “joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who “REPENTS.” ” 
Hmmm…..Who is it doing all that rejoicing “in the presence of the angels?”
IT’S JESUS!  No one is happier than Him over a sinner who has come to Him for mercy.
The Prodigal Son.
Last of all is the most famous story of all:  The Prodigal Son.  This brash, rebellious, disrespectful son demanded all of his inheritance from his father.  Then he turned around, took it, and blew it on “Riotous living.”  But when the money ran out, predictably, so did all his so-called  “friends.”
Did he run back home to his father’s house?  Nope.  He went somewhere else and worked at the most degrading, menial job feeding pigs.  He got so desperate and destitute that he ended up eating what they did!  That’s about as low as it can get for a Jewish boy.
The Prodigal’s “Repentance?”
Much is often made of the phrase where it says “He came to himself,” as if this act of his was somehow repentance.  Well, it is and yet, it isn’t.  Let’s look a little closer at this, “Repentance,” of his.
(The Prodigal Son)
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants
have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”
See?  He was starving!  He wasn’t thinking about his father or how he must have wronged him.  He was listening to his growling stomach.
“18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son….”
He put together this rehearsed speech, hoping that he he could get back in his father’s good graces.  Hmmm…So far, so good. But then he adds the next line:
“MAKE ME LIKE ONE OF YOUR HIRED SERVANTS.”’
…Uh, Um…..not so good. Now he wants to EARN his way back into the Father’s favor.  But what is his motivation?
“How many of my father’s hired servants have BREAD ENOUGH AND TO SPARE, and I perish with HUNGER.”
There is not a hint of remorse for what he did.  He went back home because his stomach was growling.  He remembered the goodness and the more-than-enough bread back of his father’s house.  Look at the Father’s response!
20″ “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off,…….
1. The Father “saw” him
2. The Father “had compassion,”
3. The Father “ran”
4. The Father “fell on his neck.”
5. The Father “kissed him.”
The Father did 5 things even BEFORE the boy had a chance to blurt out a single word of his rehearsed speech!  5 is the number of Grace.  The Father showed him His Grace!  Then, he began his little speech:
21″ And the son said to him,‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
That’s all he got out. Notice what’s missing?  Yep. He never said the part about “Make me like one of your hired servants.”  How could he say he wanted to earn His father’s love in the presence of his superabounding Grace?  He couldn’t.  It’s almost seems as if the Father didn’t care what he said.
The Father’s response to the son before or after the speech.  He was accepted LONG BEFORE he said a single word!  And the father, the “Finder,” was overjoyed!
“24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
And they began to be merry.”
The Elder Brother.
Conversely, the older brother was angry, bitter, and jealous.  He wasn’t at all happy to see that his long-lost brother back home, safe again.  Who does he depict?  The Pharisees.  They were full of anger, bitterness, and jealousy with a murderous intent.  Conversely, the sinners are portrayed by younger brother.
Just like the Pharisees, the older son didn’t realize that he, too, needed to metanóia: To change his mind; to “repent.”  The elder brother had no real love toward his father.  There is no sense of closeness or warmth.  He only wanted to party with his friends.  No thought of inviting his father.  His relationship with him was obviously cold and distant, almost angry.
(The Good Shepherd says, “Come.”)
Jesus Gets All The Credit.
The point is, you and I can’t really take any credit for turning to God or for turning back to Him.  He loved us first and drew us to Him by that same superabounding love.  It irresistibly draws all of us.  How can we do anything less than respond by running back to Him?
Jesus is the real Hero.
Jesus is the One Who deserves ALL THE PRAISE!
Jesus is the One Who paid the price so we could come home!
Confession of faith does come into play, of course.  But the truth be told, it’s really nothing more than a response to the great love He has already shown us. We don’t deserve credit for any action we have taken.  We simply “Changed our minds” with regard to the way we thought about God.  Now, we understand that He SO LOVED us and He’s not out to get us!
See those words, “Minds, thought, understanding?”  It’s all internal, in your thoughts and in your heart:  Non-verbal.  That’s how a change of mind often happens:  Quietly, without a spoken word.
Now, because of His great love toward us, you and I are no longer “Lost Items,” like those in the three parables of Luke 15.  We have experienced the Joy of the Finder!

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