Saturday 2 March 2024

 Luke 15 v1-24

I am turning to the gospel of Luke, in Chapter 15. This is a very well-known passage which contains a message for people of all ages

First, there is the shepherd who loses one of his sheep, so he leaves the flock  of the other ninety nine whilst he searches for the lost one. He finds, and is so delighted he carries the sheep with joy, back to his friends and neighbours, finding the one who went astray.
Secondly, there is the woman who loses one of ten coins from her head-dress, so sweeps the home until she finds the coin, and after finding the lost, calls in her friends to rejoice with her. Although not worth a lot moneywise, it was equal to a day’s wage. It was not difficult to lose a coin but difficult to find. The house would be small with an earth floor covered with reeds and rushes, and there would be a small round window to give little light.

Trying to find a coin in such conditions was hard, and despite s weeping the floor it looked totally lost. It was a matter of desperation to the woman, and she could not give in. These people needed food and were living on the edge, and without finding the coin there would be no food.  But there was also a romantic reason.

 In Palestine the mask of a married woman, was a head-dress of ten silver coins linked together to form a chain. For years a girl would save up to collect the coins for her head-dress, which was like the equivalent of our wedding ring. When she had it, it was a treasure and could not be taken away. This may be the reason for which she was so disturbed over, and longed to find. She searched so hard, as a woman today would for a lost ring. She did in the end find it and clutched it in her hand, full of joy and finding it.    God said Jesus is like that, filled with joy when one sinner returns to him, and all the angels in heaven rejoice.

There is the well-known story of the prodigal son, who went to his father and asked to claim the inheritance that would be his on the father’s death, which by Jewish law he was not entitled to have until his father died. In that case, his elder brother has two thirds of inheritance, and he as the younger son get the other third. His father pleads with him not to leave, but the son is determined to go and live in the big city with all its attractions. Forsaking his father and brother, and thereby exhibiting just how much he really thought of his father.

Life started well for him, he gained many friends, living the high life until he money ran out, and then his friends ran out just as quickly. Left bereft, he found a job feeding pigs, an animal which was an affront to a Jew, and was forced to eat their food. Eventually he gave up, and decided to return to his father and beg forgiveness.

The father had never given up hope of his son returning, and each day would look up the road leading to his home, constantly hoping to see his son walking back. Then when the day came, he rushed out to greet the boy with loving arms and compassion, and he dismissed all the son’s apologies. He created a lavish feast, which upset the faithful son who had not been treated with such attention as his wayward brother. The father assures that son of the love he had for him, who had always been appreciated.

The message we should see in this passage, is that God is like the forgiving father in the story, who rejoices when a person falls away from Church, is found and welcomed back. The Bible tells that all heaven rejoices when one lost sinner repents and returns. God is always ready to welcome and forgive.
Jesus came down to earth to give His life on a Cross, to pay the price for forgiveness for all who return to Him. He did so to be the ‘good shepherd’. Always searching for the lost. Jesus always showed concern, He never just wrote a person off  Parables were the way Jesus wanted to teach people how to lead their life in a Christian manner.   Here, Jesus was giving a lesson in forgiveness.

An American story, is of their great President Lincoln, who was asked after the Southerners were defeated in the Civil War, if he would claim vengeance, but Lincoln replied, I will treat them as if they had never been away.  God treats us like that.  If you repent after offending God or Jesus, remember God will forgive you. 

We see the testimony shown by our Lord towards his enemies.  The Jewish leaders criticised Him as mixing with sinners.  Not everyone is so charitable as Jesus, but if there has not been any severe harm caused, life is too short to bear grudges.

 This chapter contains three parables told by Jesus, and in each parable there is a story of something lost, but then found. In to-day’s world, which moves so fast, in which knowledge advances in almost every year.  In fact, it moves so fast many people cannot keep pace. Just as in the passage, people are lost. They want all the good things that life now produces in the technological sphere, but are not able to afford, and they wander disgruntled. Much pleasure in life will be lost if you have no purpose  or plan for which to strive for.  If you carefully decide on you’re the career, plan your future.

In our present way, we wish we had thought and acted in in the past, like our recent manner. Many people I am sure, look back on life and how they acted, and think if I could only have acted as I feel able to now, how better life would be. I readily admit I think of my early ministry years, and think how I did things, and wish I had time to make good. I think of the offers I had but never took.. Like lot of people, we realize the way we have learned and improved. Christ is willing to understand, and will graciously pardon us freely, and offer eternal life. Do not hold back in asking to be forgiven, and saved.

Difficult times come when students come to the time of going to University, and that inevitably means living away from home and family. Most young people here look forward to what they think life will be, free to do what they like, which is a disastrous attitude.  Things are not all that wonderful in a strange city, for temptations are everywhere, and young people cannot resist the lure of alcohol, and the more deadly drugs which are so prevalent in the cities of our country.   

When the age of 19/20 is reached, girls are more ready to have a steady boyfriend, and some boys  take advantage of this, and girls are likely to face a difficult future as the boys run off and leave them. I have felt very sorry for the situation girls are left in, but the hardest word to use in any language is ‘No’.  Don’t be afraid to use it.

Billy Graham, was an American evangelist and the greatest preacher in Christian history, preaching regularly across the world ,to congregations of 80 thousands or more, once to 250,000. He spoke to a young persons’ service and advised that young people should not engage in sexual activity in order to get a quick marriage. If you are a Christian boy or girl, God will find a suitable partner for you. Many scoffed, but I liked Billy and took him seriously, and I had the most wonderful girl any man could have, and we met at a Church club and started to see each other, and were together for many years.  One of my Church ladies described her as one of God’s special daughters, for she was loved by all who knew her.  I wish everyone of you young people hearing this sermon, will be blessed by God as I was.

I beseech you, don’t act in haste in any circumstances, think carefully of how you will be best dealing with the consequences.    Find a Church, one where the Pastor preaches from the Bible, not all the preachers do so in Churches.

 Remember Jesus died, giving his life on a Cross in a most cruel death, and he did so, in order that you and I will be forgiven our sins. God said there is no one who is truly righteous, and he sent Jesus to die for us, so that his death would pay the penalty for sin. God is a God of justice, and like the judges in civil Courts has to give a penalty for wrongdoing. In those cases, the offender has to pay himself, but when we sin God is so upset, only Jesus could pay our penalty.  So if Jesus gave his life for us, we should give him our presence at worship in Church. 

I wish you all every ,blessing, and to any young people, hope you enjoy your time together, and pray that you will as you go through your lives, follow Jesus, and have his presence in your life as I have in mine.


May God bless you and may God be glorified

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