Challenging Stories (p4) – A Rejoicing God

Context of the story

Luke 15:1-3

‘Receives’ in Greek means to actively seek and the fact that Jesus would actively seek out sinners made no sense to the Pharisees and these parables are in response to this.

The lost sheep, Luke 15:3-7

  • The sheep is not lost because of the shepherd’s negligence, but because the sheep had withdrawn and gone astray (Matthew 18).
  • Jesus died for us and took the weight of our sins on his shoulders and will carry the weight of life for us, like he carried the sheep (Luke 15:5)
  • When the sheep is found the shepherd rejoices and God is a rejoicing God, whether we’re a new Christian or have returned to him for the 500th time, he will rejoice.
  • Jesus tells these parables because he wants to tell of his love for everyone, this is the heart of God to seek and save every person

The lost son, Luke 15:11-19

  • When the son runs away it initially brings freedom and fun, but then he becomes someone’s slave and that’s what happens when we sin.
  • We’re designed to be satisfied by God and when we run away from him nothing fulfils us or brings us joy.
  • The son then ‘came to his senses’ and was no longer making excuses and focused on the generosity of the father, repentance starts with us realising that we’ve got it wrong and then going to our generous father. A change of heart, a change of mind and then action.

Six pictures of God – Luke 15:20-24

  1. He saw him – God is not so busy looking after the universe that he’s not always looking and waiting for us to come back to him.
  2. He felt compassion – The father has a deep down well of emotion for each of us.
  3. He ran – In those days the rich men wouldn’t run, but the overwhelming feeling of compassion and joy spurred him into action.
  4. He hugged and kissed the son – God is a God of emotion and feels this same way about us.
  5. He put on a robe, ring and shoes – The beautiful robe would cover his dirty rags and is a picture of forgiveness. The ring represents that the son holds the same authority as the father and God has given us his authority. The shoes were closed toe luxury shoes only worn by free men and is a picture of freedom.
  6. He began to party – God is so happy when we come home and he is ready to party.

Why is this so important?

  1. This is the picture of God which we’re to proclaim to the world, not a judging God but a loving, rejoicing father.
  2. When we know more of who God is, we’ll want to spend more time with him. Because God is for you and loves you, is fun to be with, is celebrating, hugging and delighting in you. He deals with our sin but doesn’t hold it over us, as it’s been dealt with once and for all

These aren’t go and do stories, they’re open your eyes and see.