Daily Update #154

Today’s readings –    Philippians 3:3-8a    Psalm 105:1-7    Luke 15:1-10

Pause:  Lord Jesus, still our hearts and minds now, as we prepare to hear from your word.  Help us to appreciate your deep love for each one of us, so much so that you have gone to extraordinary lengths to find us, bring us to repentance and, in your grace, to save us.  

    Amen

Today’s passage in Luke includes the two familiar parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin.  These two parables form part of a block of Jesus’ teaching which Luke lays out in chapter 15.  As usual, understanding Luke’s meaning and this message needs us to look at the wider context.  Luke is clear in linking up these two parables with the rest of chapter 15 by the preface “Jesus continued:….” so clearly we need to take these three parables together to understand the full impact of Jesus’ teaching.  

So what are we to make of these two parables?  Jesus uses the illustration of the lost sheep and the lost coin to teach us a key truth about God’s activity in our world.  The clue is in the repeated refrain which the shepherd and the woman use (verses 6 and 9):  “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost……” – insert sheep or coin, as appropriate.  

I have heard cynics suggest that God has given up on the world and is now focusing his attention on other, potentially less ambitious, projects.  Not a bit of it!  The Lord God of Hosts continues on his throne and is intimately engaged in the world he created.  These parables underline that God is seeking the lost.  Jesus confirms this by his statements about what happens in heaven when a lost sinner repents.  In the case of the parable of the lost sheep we hear about rejoicing in heaven; and in the case of the lost coin there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God.  

But wait, isn’t there a problem?  The sheep was wandering aimlessly, almost certainly not looking for the shepherd.  Likewise the coin was lying somewhere in a corner, inanimate and waiting to be found.  How can these be pictures of sinners who repent?  The spiritual reality is that everyone who sins is a rebel against God and is unlikely to be seeking him.  In many ways unrepentant sinners (which is what we all once were) are like the coin, dead in our sins and without life and hope.  But God is undeterred.  He engages with his creation and is actively seeking the lost.  

Do please read on in Luke 15 to the parable of the lost son (or perhaps better the parable of the prodigal God) to see how sinners need to repent and how God himself responds to this acknowledgement of our sin and unworthiness.  

Today as we have just commenced another period of lockdown and as our friends across the water in the United States wrestle over the contested result of their presidential election, isn’t it good that we can focus on the settled, unchanging will of God, who constantly and continuously seeks the lost, regardless of their lack of concern about him or even awareness of his activity?  We may be living in uncertain times, but the revealed certainty about God and his will for us gives us amazing hope and purpose, the true anchor and rock for our souls!  

Prayer

Almighty God,
thank you that your heart is to seek and to save the lost.  
Thank you for sending the Lord Jesus to accomplish this mission and to reveal your kingdom to any and all who will receive it.  
Thank you for calling each one of us into relationship with you, through the atonement which you achieved through the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross.  
Help us to be faithful ambassadors, holding out hope and truth to all who will receive it today and in the future, we pray.  
We ask all this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Amen

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