God's compassion for sinners

The fifteenth chapter of Luke is one of the most lovely chapters in the Bible. It has been called “the Gospel in the Gospels.” It is a graphic illustration of God's compassion for sinners. The chapter tells of three that got lost - sheep, coin, and a son. They represent three types of sinners.

Sinners who know they are lost, but don't know the way home

Like sheep, they wander and are lost. The sheep knows it is lost but can't find the way home. Multitudes of people are like this. They know they are far from God, but they don't know how to be reconciled to Him. They slip away with the current of worldliness and become spiritually numb. Like careless sheep, they drift away from Christ.

Sinners who don't know they are lost, and are lost at home

The coin is not aware that it is lost because it is inanimate and without mind. It did not get lost through its own fault, but because of the fault of someone else. Worse, it is lost at home. There are sinners like that. They are lost, but don't think they are. Worse yet, they are lost within the church or within a comfortable Christian environment. This can be a truly perilous, but not hopeless, situation.

Sinners who plan to get lost

The son was lost not through his own carelessness or through the carelessness of others. His journey to the far country was based on a plan and premeditated action. He turned away from home thinking of no one but himself. He was willing to break his father's heart in order to have his own way. Self-will is the root of sin. Deliberately, with their eyes open, many people forsake the church and go off into the land of God forgetfulness.

The emphasis of these parables is not simply that men are lost. They tell us about God's attitude toward sinners. The three stories are bound by a golden Chain - God's desire for sinners to come to Him. This is shown by:

Christianity teaches that man cannot save himself. He cannot, by searching, find God. It is God that initiates the search. God is like that shepherd who goes out in search of the lost sheep. He does not drive it back or hire someone to carry it back, but like the shepherd puts it on His own shoulders and brings it home. Like the woman who lights a lamp, sweeps the house, and will not rest until she finds it, so is God like in His search for fallen humanity. He came to earth and humbled Himself as a servant. However mean and base sinners may be, God still wants them.

The joyful celebration

God's attitude toward the lost is seen in His joy. It is a basic point in these stories that the shepherd, the woman, and the father were filled with uncontrollable joy when they regained what had been lost. Embracing his son who had come home, the father announces, “Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:23, 24). Jesus said that there is joy in heaven before the angels of God when one sinner repents and turns away from a life of sin. It matters not how terrible the sins, or how deeply lost you are. There is great hope, if one's repentance, like the prodigal's, is as genuine as one's fall.

The good news is that you can go back home again.

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