Sermon: Jesus Receives Sinners (Luke 15:1-10)

Luke 15.1.10 click for audio

Jesus Receives Sinners!

Luke 15:1-10

Last week, we read from God’s Word probably one of the most difficult truths from the lips of Jesus…Unless you are ready to forsake all, you cannot be my disciple.  Today, we’re about to hear one of the greatest truth in all the Bible…Jesus Receives Sinners!

Have you ever really thought that statement through?  Jesus Christ, God incarnate, perfect in every way didn’t come to condemn sinners but to save sinners.  He is the only One with the credentials to condemn sinners and yet He chooses to pardon sinners who come to Him in faith and repentance.

We have before us the first two of three parables Jesus tells concerning the issue of receiving sinners.  What I want you to see as I read these two this morning is the difference between the attitude of Heaven and the Pharisees.  One rejoices exceedingly and the other grumbles.

Jesus first tells the story of a shepherd who has lost one of his sheep and second about a poor woman who had lost one of her dowry coins.  Then at the end of each story He pauses with a verse of application and describes for us that while grumbling is going on in His midst, the rejoicing in heaven cannot be contained.

He tells these parables to make the point that Heaven gladly receives sinners and so does Jesus, much unlike the Pharisees who turn them away and view them as unwanted.

Please Hear God’s Word…

Lk 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.

Lk 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Lk 15:3 So he told them this parable:

Lk 15:4 “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?

Lk 15:5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Lk 15:6 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.’

Lk 15:7 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.

Lk 15:8 “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?

Lk 15:9 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.’

Lk 15:10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Father, this is Your Word.  Please make it effectual in our lives.  Cause it to remind us that we need to always be repenting.

1.  Jesus Receives Sinners (15:1-2)

Lk 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.

Lk 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Luke shows us the situation as the Pharisees and Scribes were beginning to approach Jesus.  The picture is that of the lions circling their prey.  What was Jesus’ crime?  What was it that caused them so much trouble?

Rather than turning away those in society who were viewed as morally compromised as the religious leaders did, He spent time with them, loving them and teaching them and at times, challenging them.

Do you see the dynamic at work here?  Tax collectors and sinners were being drawn to Jesus.  They were drawing near…

What was it about Jesus that attracted these folks?  For possibly the first time, they had access to God.  It wasn’t through ritualistic rules and a works salvation but it was through the Gospel of grace.

 

The “publicans” and sinners, people who were regarded and treated as outcasts from the Jewish religious and national life, found in Jesus One who did not despise and reject them, like the Pharisees and scribes with their religion that was generally cold and hard towards such people, but One who took a real interest in them and pointed out to them the road to salvation and real life. — Geldenhuys[1]

 

The Pharisees grumbled because Jesus received sinners.  They thought that only righteous should be preached to and looked after.  Jesus showed everyone God’s perspective on the lost.  For the Pharisees, Jesus, claiming to be from God, should do things the way they did them.  It didn’t compute in their minds that God would want anything to do with sinners.  After all God is perfectly set apart from sin so He can’t love sinners.  Jesus came to show us the Father’s perspective when it comes to lost sinners.

The one thing that these religious leaders did get right was that they did observe correctly the fact that Jesus did receive sinners.  Aren’t you glad today that Jesus receives sinners?

Major Premise- Jesus receives sinners

Minor Premise- I am a sinner

Conclusion- Jesus will receive me[2]

It is in this setting, namely, the grumbling of the Pharisees, that prompts our Lord to tell three parables showing why He seeks out the lost.

The purpose of the grumbling Pharisees was to disqualify Jesus as a Teacher because of His unconventional practices of fellowshipping and even eating with sinners.  What we should understand is that it is wrong, in many cases, to eat with sinners.  Jesus is not just eating with sinners; He’s eating with sinners who have repented.  The twist Luke will put on Jesus’ stories in the end is that these repentant sinners are much more righteous that the self-righteous Pharisees

2.  Rejoice with Me! (15:3-6)

Lk 15:3 So he told them this parable:

Lk 15:4 “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?

Lk 15:5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Lk 15:6 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.’

The first point Jesus makes is that any shepherd worth anything will be concerned when all his sheep are not where they are supposed to be.  Ninety-nine are in the sheepfold but one is lost.  Did a wolf get it?  Is it alive?  Is it hurt?  Time is of the essence.  The shepherd shuts the gate and goes out into the wilderness looking for the one lost sheep.  I really love this parable.  It wasn’t 10 sheep that had gone missing but one, just one.  The Good Shepherd is concerned for the one.   For a shepherd, the loss of one lamb would be considered acceptable in the savage wilderness.  He still has 99 left.  Our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is not willing that one of His lambs would perish.  Dear church, do you remember when the Good Shepherd found you?  Do you remember when you were hanging over the edge of the cliff looking at eternal doom and the Good Shepherd rescued you?

Notice also, He searches until He finds the lost lamb.  Jesus doesn’t come home empty handed.  He searches until He finds the lost lamb… until he finds it?

Notice also, that the shepherd lifts up the lost lamb, placing it upon His shoulders and carries it back to the sheepfold.  Our Lord refuses to allow His sheep to be lost.  He takes the initiative.  Salvation is of the Lord.  Like the lost lamb who has went his own way, we too rebel and leave the fold of God.  Our Lord acts in love when He doesn’t wait for our permission or even our obedience.  He grabs us where we are and lifts us up onto His shoulders.

The point Jesus makes to the religious leaders present is that their roll is to be the shepherds of Israel and yet, they were not willing to care for the sheep.  Their actions actually served to scatter the sheep.

This imagery of Christ’s parable connects directly to Ezekiel 34:1-10 where the leaders were to serve as shepherds but instead allowed the sheep to be scattered and killed.

When the Good Shepherd brings a lost lamb home He rejoices…notice who else rejoices…

3. Rejoicing in Heaven (15:7)

Lk 15:7 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.

Heaven joins the Lord in rejoicing over the sinner who by grace sees his sin and repents.

The line is drawn.  The clear difference is seen between self-righteous lost religious leaders and God.  Heaven is rejoicing and earth is grumbling.  Pharisees are complained the Jesus receives sinners and heaven cannot contain the joy.  This joy is over one sinner who repents.

What might keep someone from repenting?  Once God begins to work in the heart of a lost person, the person begins to see his/her sin.  Repentance is the next step.  Sometimes repentance can be resisted because the person may think that God is like man.  If I repent then God will know my sin and I will be punished.  The exact opposite is true.  God already knows all your sin.  When a sinner repents, God isn’t angry but is happy at repentance.  Heaven is overjoyed.

What angers God are sinners who do not repent.  Never think coming to Christ by faith and repentance will make your case worse.  Heaven longs to see you repent.

4.  Rejoice with Me! (Luke 15:8-9)

Lk 15:8 “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?

Lk 15:9 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.’

Here we see very similar things.  Instead of loosing a lamb, this woman looses one of her dowry coins.  She was very poor and this small dowry was all she had in hopes of finding a would-be husband.  She looses one.  Here her loss seems more significant.  A shepherd could afford to loose one lamb out of a hundred.  Here her loss is ten% and she doesn’t have that much to start with.

The real issue here isn’t the percentages.  Many commentators zero in on the amount of loss the person experiences based on the percentages; one lamb out of one hundred, one coin out of ten, and next week we’ll learn about the lost son, one son out of two.  It goes much deeper than that.  Jesus came to gather for Himself a people and He will search until all are found.  These parables deal with completeness.

This woman, as was typical in ancient times, wore a headdress with ten silver coins fixed within it.  One of the coins had fallen off.  Logically, her search would begin in her home where she spent most of her time.  As was true of the homes during that time, they had no windows to let light in, because they would also let heat in.  They only had a few stones missing around the top just under the roof for ventilation.  In order to see better, she light a candle and begins sweeping.  She may have seen a glitter or heard in move as she swept but at any rate she finds it.

Now her dowry headdress is complete again.  Just like the shepherd who owned one hundred sheep, he didn’t own ninety-nine but one hundred.

We also see her determination.  Like the shepherd who seeks until he finds the lamb, she searches diligently until she finds her lost coin.

Once she finds it, she, like the shepherd, calls her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me!

Christianity is the only religion in which God comes seeking man.  He diligently searches like the shepherd.  He diligently keeps at the searching until all His lost sheep and lost coins are found.

Rom 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jn 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 

Jn 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 

 

This care and love found in Christ toward lost sinners was what drew them.

Lk 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.

We also see in these two parables that Jesus spared no expense in His seeking out the lost.  He came from the Father to earth, He lived among those everyone else despised and hated, His life was given in payment to redeem His lost sheep.

Application-

Rejoice in the fact that Jesus comes seeking lost sinners.  He searches until He finds all that are His.

Heaven rejoices over sinners who repent.  Jesus receives sinners.  Both statements are equally true.  However, the Pharisees made up a group of people who didn’t see their need to come to Jesus in repentance.  They didn’t understand the fact that they too were sinners.

Lost-Heaven is not rejoicing over people who believe that they are righteous as a result of their works.  In other words, these religious leaders thought they could do enough religious things to get in good with God.  Because every person ever born is a sinner, they too needed to repent.  They thought they were much better than the poor and the outcast but Jesus tells them they are wrong.  He basically tells them that the very thing that causes you to grumble causes heaven to rejoice.

If you’re lost and you see your sin as a barrier between you and God, come to Jesus

and trust Him by faith and seek repentance…

Lk 15:10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Saved– Did you know that Christians need to also live lives of faith and repentance.  The Holy Spirit residing within us will cause us to continually see more sin in our lives that needs dealt with.  Come to Christ with that sin, confess it and repent from it.  Seek His forgiveness and live differently as a result.

The tables had been turned on the religious leaders.  They thought they were ok with God, however, God showed them differently.  Those who had been rejected by man, Jesus received.

 


[1] NICNT Gospel of Luke pg. 401

[2] Sermon on Luke 15:1-10 by Ligon Duncan

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