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Then Jesus Told Them This Parable...

This Sunday we begin our new series Going Viral, opening the Scriptures in order to be equipped by God to share the good news of Jesus. As we have discussed before, evangelism strikes fear and anxiety in many of our hearts! And while we recognize our own fear, as well as the negative perception of evangelism in our culture, we are called to do it!

This was no mere afterthought, but is central to the mission of Jesus, who called disciples that would sit at his feet in order to become his apostles who would stand to their feet and go out to serve Him and extend His message of reconciliation. But, if we receive opposition (even from fellow Christians!) don’t be surprised – it’s happened before.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables: The lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. The meaning of these three parables is clear: God delights in the recovery of the lost. Remember, the shepherd and the woman and the father each call together friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me: I have found what was lost!” Jesus declares, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of God over one sinner who repents.” That’s the meaning: God delights in the recovery of the lost.

But do you know the purpose? Do you recall the reason Jesus told these three parables? It’s right there at the beginning of the chapter:

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable…

Jesus told these three stories to defend his evangelism efforts! Arland J. Hultgren explains it this way:

Jesus’ critics and he can agree that the disreputables are in fact lost. But what is to be done? For the Pharisees and scribes on the scene, the proper course of action is to shun them. But not for Jesus. When he associates with the disreputables, he is acting out – by means of an enacting parable – the ways of God. This can also be put into words, in a verbal parable. The ways of God are comparable to those of a shepherd who goes out, leaving behind a great flock, to seek earnestly the one that is lost. The lost are to be rescued, not rejected.

Friends, none of us were born Christians. Not one. Perhaps we were born into a Christian home that helped us learn how to follow Jesus. Praise God! But a Christian we were not. We all needed to be welcomed home through Jesus.

That means that there has been rejoicing in the presence of God over every one of us who have repented and been found.

What’s more, it means that we are called to join the rescue effort, joining Jesus in his evangelistic efforts to engage with those who need to hear the good news - even in spite of opposition. May we do so, remembering that we, too, were lost. But now we are children of God!

Pastor Curtis

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