"There is a Reason to Celebrate"

Today I want to tell you a story. In fact, this is the way that Jesus used to teach his hearers a lesson, but he called His stories parables. Would you turn with me today to Luke Chapter 15. I want us to look at 3 stories but one in particular. Out of all the parables there are some that are very well known because they deal with salvation. The parables in Luke 15 like the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son deal with just that. God’s salvation. Bishop J.C. Ryle once said of these parables, “There is probably no chapter of the Bible that has done greater good to the souls of men then Luke 15.” So, that is why I want us to run to this good news chapter today. Let begin in verse 1.
Luke 15:1–32 ESV
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable: 4 “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? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 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.’ 7 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. 8 “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? 9 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.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
So, what in the world is the Lord trying to help us understand here? Well, clearly the Lord is being attacked by these self-righteous religious leaders for him hanging out with society’s outcasts, namely those people who are sinners. Jesus did not look down upon sinners but he actually was found to be eating with them. He was naturally attracted to them because He realized what they needed. In fact, that is why Jesus came to earth. He came to save sinners. In these first two parables we see that Jesus wants us to understand the loss that happens with these owners. Both of these owners were willing to do whatever it took to find the lost sheep and the lost coin and in the end we see the joy when the shepherd finds his lamb and the woman finds her coin. In this last parable or story we see the joy of the Father at the return of his rebellious son, and the hard heartedness of the brother who stayed at home. These stories all fit together so let me give you some practical application with 4 quick points.

1. God values that which is lost.

Clearly we can see here that the sheep was lost. The coin was lost, and the Son was lost. What this helps us to see today is how sinful and miserable we are apart from trusting in God.
Now there may be some people who would say no big deal I understand how business works and sometimes you have just got to take your losses. One lost sheep out of 99. One lost coin out of ten. That is 90% and that is still pretty good, so I will just deal with the loss. Even the father here could have just focused on the one son remaining, and not worried about the lost son.
But this is not how God operates. He goes after the lost. God loves us and is determined to find us. Now we as sheep can wonder away from God like this prodigal son did, but God is the good shepherd and goes after His sheep.
If you are lost today and don’t know God as your Savior, I want you to know today that you are valuable to God, even in your lost condition. You may think today that I have done some terrible things and you may even feel worthless, but you need to understand that it was God who made you, and you are valuable to God. God is able to see what you were created to be, so trust in Him today.

2. The Father seeks those who are lost.

Not only does God value those who are lost, but He seeks after those who are lost. Isaiah the prophet once said something about sinners and he compares them to lost sheep.
Isaiah 53:6 ESV
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
God the Father gave up His one and Only Son who was Jesus in order to find us and restore us to God. In John chapter 10 Jesus tells us that He is the good shepherd. And so, Jesus came to lead us out of the pig pen and into the Father’s house. Jesus is our only hope today church. He came to seek us and find us.
Luke 19:10 ESV
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
This is an amazing picture of God isn’t it? Christ came to seek and find and rejoice in those who come to know Him. This has always been true down through history and will always be true of everyone who comes to Christ. God always finds those whom He seeks. And because of that we should never ever lose hope. No matter how bad your sin is today, the Lord can save you and forgive you. In fact, Isaiah reminds us of this.
Isaiah 55:7 ESV
7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

3. The Son that was dead is found to be alive.

The prodigal son here has sinned, he has rebelled and has taken his inheritance and gone off to a far country and spent everything on wild living.
It’s important here that we understand something about the son. There was a reason why the son took his inheritance and went off to a far country. As I have read over this text several times the question is why didn’t he stay where he was at with all of his friends? Why didn’t he spend all of his money every night and come home to his father? Here is why, because that is not how sin works. This son wanted to go where no one could see him or judge him or critique his lifestyle. Children of darkness don’t want to have anything to do with what is in the light. So, the son squanders or wastes all of the wealth that his father gives him. The word (Prodigal) here means wasteful or lavish.
But God! God came after him just like the shepherd with his lost sheep. When we say that a sinner comes to his senses, this means that God first sought him out and brought him to a place of spiritual resurrection. Salvation is of God. But this prodigal son, this sinner does repent of his sin and begins to seek God.
We see this here in 3 steps.
First this son comes to a point where he wakes up and realizes his true condition. I am a sinner. I will return to my father and will be his servant. But, I will admit my faults and sin.
Second, there was just an honest confession of what he had done wrong.\
The final step, in his conversion was an actual return to the Father. He left his sin and returned to his father. He fully submitted to the Lord.
If you have never done that will you do that today? Confess your sin, surrender your life to Christ, pick up your cross and follow Him.

4. Don’t harden your heart to the point that you miss the celebration.

The Father tells this other son, that you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. However it is fitting that we celebrate and be glad. Why??? Because your brother was dead and is alive. Your brother was lost, and is found. The older son here missed the celebration party because his heart was in the wrong place and was hardened. He cared more about himself than the fact that his lost brother had been found. How sad.
What is so interesting about this statement is that we know the religious leaders of Christ’s time like the Pharisees hated the sinners that Jesus was hanging around. We see this clearly in verse 2 of this chapter. These religious leaders hated when a sinner was recognized or recieved a blessing because they thought only they should. This is the type of heart of someone who is not saved, because they don’t understand God’s grace. But, for those of who who do know and see God’s grace how can we do anything but rejoice when someone that is lost comes to be found by God. This is a story of the gospel church. This is a story about someone who was dead in their sin and been made alive by God. But how can that happen? How can we have a reason to Celebrate? Because there is a Reason to Celebrate! Let’s check it out.
John 20:1–23 ESV
1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
The Shepherd rejoiced over finding his lost sheep. The woman rejoiced over finding her lost coin, and the father threw a party when his lost son returned. And just like these disciples who were joyful and glad to see the risen savior, we too have reason to celebrate today. Jesus has risen from the grave to give us life and to free us from sin. If Christ can forgive a wayward, prodigal son, than He too can forgive you.
(Pray and Lead into Communion)
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