A Loving, Unrelenting Savior

A Loving, Unrelenting Savior: 2016 Gospel of Luke #59

This is an exposition of Luke 15:1-7. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 21, 2017.


Have you ever lost something of great value to you? Something that may not have been of any value or worthy to anyone else but it meant something to you? I have a tendency to like “a” shirt. And I will wear that shirt until it is worn out – then I’ll latch onto another one. It’s a flaw in my otherwise flawless character! One day I went to the closet for my shirt. It was gone. “Rheadon where is my shirt?” “What shirt?” “My shirt! What shirt…what kind of question is that? She probably threw it away – she knows I love that shirt. What did I say? Oh, nothing dear.” I ransacked the closet. Nothing. Emptied the draws in the dresser – not there. Dumped the laundry basket. The washer? No. The dryer? Empty. I’m going to find my shirt if it kills me. After an exhaustive search I found it – yes where I had left it – wadded up on the floor. I wept.

He had done it before. It was nothing new – in fact every time he got the chance he ran away. I never understood it. He was greatly loved. He was abundantly provided for but he wanted more. He didn’t seem to care about the pain he caused when he ran away. Our weenie dog had run away again! I got on my bike and circled the block calling for John. No response. We got in the car and with great intensity and determination my eyes searched as I called out his name. “There he is.” As we pulled up beside him I threw open the door and he jumped into my lap. My fear and frustration were gone. All that matter was that he was found.

Lost things. What happens when something that you love is lost? And what happens when it is found? That’s what I want us to think about this morning as we explore Luke 15:1-7.

Text: Luke 15:1-7

The Scriptures are clear – those who are “outside” of Christ are “lost.” Those who have not repented of their sin and put their trust and confidence in Christ and Christ alone are separated from God. They are aliens and strangers. They are denied both the pleasure and the benefit of His presence. They know nothing of his peace, mercy and grace. They are, in the words of the apostle Paul, “dead in trespass and sin.”

What is the attitude of God toward those who are lost? Many only see the response of His holiness. They think of His wrath, His vengeance and His judgement. While God is holy and while there is a fearful judgement that awaits those who die in their sin – that is not the whole picture. If we want a true picture we must add to His wrath and judgement His love and grace. That is the focus of our text.

Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to die.
He’s just come from the home of a Pharisee were he has foiled their trap.
He rebuked their pride and arrogance. (Seeking the choice seats)
He rebuked their impure motives. (Ministering for what you get out of it)
He spoke to the multitude following Him about the cost of being His disciple.
Then comes the exchange we are looking at.

Thesis: The biblical gospel tells the story of the Savior’s loving, unrelenting pursuit of the lost and dying.

The image of God as a shepherd is well established in the Old Testament. We go back to David the Shepherd King. It is David who wrote, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” The 23rd Psalm is that beautiful statement of the loving, gracious care of God for his own. We also find it in the prophets. Isaiah says, “He (God) will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Ezekiel scolds Israel’s religious leaders, their shepherds, for failing to care with the weak and for scattering rather than gathering the flock. Then he says, “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

He is the fulfillment of that promise. There are three things I want us to note in our text.

  1. The biblical gospel depicts the Savior’s unrelenting pursuit of the lost. (15:4)
  2. The biblical gospel presents the compassionate Savior bearing the burden of the lost. (15:5)
  3. The biblical gospel reveals the Savior’s great joy in the recovery of the lost. (15:6)

Remember the context.
The “sinners” where coming to Jesus.
The “righteous” were complaining.

Jesus says there is rejoicing in heaven in response to the sinners and no rejoicing over the so-called “righteous.”

What causes a celebration in heaven? Not your goodness or your righteousness – that’s filthy rags. The celebration comes as those who are unworthy come acknowledging their need and cry out for mercy. When a lost one is found – not through their efforts but through the work of the shepherd who diligently pursued.

That is the good news – that is the Gospel. The biblical gospel tells the story of the Savior’s loving, unrelenting pursuit of the lost and dying.

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