Tuesday 28 June 2022



The Chapter begins with Jesus teaching some tax collectors and notorious sinners, which made the religious leaders to complain that Jesus was not only associating, but eating with such people.  They just could not understand how a preacher could mix with sinners, but Jesus saw this as the purpose of His ministry. He came to call people to repent and turn to God and receive pardon.  

There is a large amount of people in the Church as well as outside, are offended at being called sinners, as one Vicar discovered when he  put a notice outside his Church stating this is a place for sinners.  He faced a reduced congregation as members stopped attending, taking their direct debits with them.

In these modern days, people spend  their lives in spiritual darkness, and spend their energies in reckless living.  Sin is a hard master, and it does not take long to find out. Those without a spiritual foundation do not live real happiness and often are not at ease with themselves, becoming weary of life.

 God is not real for them, they feel they don’t Him in their life, but if things happen which burden them, they are shouting the loudest.

 I was once waiting for a funeral service to end at a Crematorium to end, and it was a humanist one, and was amusingly amazed when the leader of the service addressing the people present told them, to try various things to help the aggrieved family and said ‘ if all that fails I can only say God help us!’  There are so many young people who have a common expression, ‘O my God’, all going to prove how few real atheists there are. 

Jesus told His listeners three parables to show them the love of God, and how God rejoices when one lost sinner repents and is found

The  parable of the lost sheep.

The first story was that if a shepherd had a hundred sheep and one got lost, the shepherd would search for the lost one, leaving all the others whilst he did so. When he found the lost sheep, he would be happy and carry it home on his shoulders, and rejoice with friends and neighbours. Likewise, when a lost sinner repents and turn to God, there would be much joy in heaven. 

The parable of the lost coin.

A Young woman lost a silver coin, which in the general run of things was of little worth, but to the woman was of much worth. In Palestine the mark of a married woman, would be a head dress of ten silver coins linked together to form a chain, and a woman would scrape and save to get the ten, and this would be equivalent to a wedding ring  The loss would cause much worry and distress. She lived in a house where the floor was hard earth covered with  dried reeds, making it hard to locate,  but she swept until she found it, and there was much joy and relief for her.

Jesus said God and the angels are filled with joy when one sinner comes home, just like the woman when she found the lost coin, she was found.

The parable of the lost son. `

This is the most well-known of the three. A man had two sons, and by Jewish law when a man dies, his estate is divided between his sons. In this case the elder son would get two thirds of the inheritance, and the younger son one. This was usually received on the death of the father.

The younger son was not happy with the home life, he wanted to go to the big city and live the high life with all that entails, but he couldn’t wait for his father to die, so asked for his inheritance to be given to him then. The father was hesitant and tried to persuade the boy to stay, but in the end gave in and handed him his portion. The boy gathered his belongings and went off to a distant place.

He was not careful with his money, and quickly gained friends who helped him spend it. He had his fun in wild living, until his money was all gone, as were his friends. The country was struck with a famine, so food was hard to get more so when you had no money.

He persuaded a farmer to hire him, and was given a job feeding the pigs, which for a Jew was hard and offensive.  He became very hungry, and whilst the pig could be fed with pods, he was not allowed any. He finally came to his senses and thought of his father’s servants being fed.  He decided to go home, confess he had sinned and behaved badly, and repent.

His father had never for gotten him, and such was his concern for the son, would daily look down the road hoping to see his son coming home.  Then the day had come, and his father in his delight cast convention aside and ran to meet the boy. It was not deemed proper for an elderly wealthy man to run.  He embraced his son, was not bothered in hearing his son lament his actions, but put a gold robe and shoes on him.

The elder son heard the commotion and asked what had occurred. He was told his brother was home, and the father had ordered the fatted calf to be brought out to have a celebration. The elder son was hurt, and reminded his father he had stayed and worked all through without getting such feast being put on, yet his brother had been away spending time and money on women.  The father assured him he had always been valued, on this happy day a lost brother had been lost and was now home. The elder brother referred not to his brother, but to his father’s son. He had no sympathy for his brother.

Jesus is teaching here that God is so merciful to repentant sinners, and far greater than man’s is to other men who often cannot forgive. This is Jesus telling the love of God leaves us, lost in wonder, love and praise.

The parables of the sheep and coin show how the love of God seeks out a sinner, and how the angels in heaven rejoice when one person is saved. In the parable of the lost son, the son realized he had failed but can start a new life.

The tax collectors and sinners listening to Jesus could see how they could do the same. They could clean their life up; they had been given hope.  Let us pray someone reading this passage may receive hope and strength to turn them to Jesus.

The Pharisees were annoyed as they thought and believed the collectors and sinners were beyond redemption, and not worthy of any further attention.The Pharisees were so deep in rules and regulations they were unable to help. We have similar restrictions, as scholars and theologians deep into theology to find issues, which cannot and do not lead to anything other than confusion .  Normal people just want simple Bible teaching, which can answer all their requirements.

There are people to-day who have come to grief and feel their life is worthless, men and women who have led a reckless carefree life and regret it, but have no hope. They long to change, but don’t know how to do so.  This is why the Church needs to be more active in the world, ready to fulfil its mission, and lead the lost to Christ and enable a new life to begin. No one has gone too far to be beyond the power of God to be reached and saved.

God has made clear He loves all people, and no matter how bad a person has been or how sinful, He is ready to forgive and have mercy on them. All the sinner has to do is repent, which means more than just saying sorry, there has to be true repentance and a turning of life around. There has also to be an acceptance that when Christ died on that Cross, he was taking responsibility for your sins so as to make you righteous in God’s sight. You accept Jesus as your Saviour and live according to His teaching; no falling back, no part-time Christian living.

The boundless mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ must be received into our minds.  He gave His life for us, now we give our life to Him.

 These parables contain a lot of teaching for us, if we carefully think of them. The main message I see in all three, is that when something is lost there is anxiety and urgent need to seek and find the lost, and to be so full of joy in finding.  We are told how God and all the angels in heaven, rejoice when a lost sinner is found and returns.

What a message for so many Churches. I went to Churches as a visiting preacher, and sometime later, would return to the same places, and see a reduced congregation. When a Church member leaves, there must be a reason, yet I never heard any explanations. Where is there that anxiety or deep concern, to seek why someone is lost ,as told in the parables.

If the shepherd was as casual as the Church has been in seeking the lost, he would have had no sheep.  I don’t say that lightly, I know it is fact. We all should never sit back and let a person fall away, such is contrary to all Jesus taught and did.

The situation may be a member is unwell, has a family problem, or quite likely has left because expected to hear the Bible being preached, and heard something totally removed.  Teaching on moral and Christian living is too sensitive for modern preachers, and are hesitant at offending.  A preacher can’t offend or insult if teaching a Bible passage; he may convict or make a person feel guilty, but that is what he should be doing.  Alternatively a person may be uplifted.                                

The Church in many places does not seek for the lost, instead just write them off. I well know how Ministers have a lot to do, (remember I am one)but an awful lot of time is spent at meetings, many of which could be abandoned. But some like going to them. When I went to a meeting, some asked who the stranger was.

But whilst the prime responsibility may be with the Minister, members of the Church have a duty to note, when someone who usually sits by them is missing, they could do something to help. There have been a lot of sad cases, especially during the pandemic, where older people living alone suffered acute depression and couldn’t go out, yet were never visited.  They must have been missed in Church, but were never contacted.  The Church is not like a bus where the Minister is the driver and members are just passengers. The Church is where we share fellowship with others and help to encourage each other, so we need to know where they are.

May the Lord bless His Church and makes us worthy of Him.

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