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Jesus' Priority

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"JESUS' PRIORITY"

(A Series on Evangelism)

 

C.R.10/4/87a.m.                                            Luke 15:1-32

 

PROPOSITION: Jesus' priority, while He ministered on  the

      earth, was to save the lost...those who were lost in their weakness like sheep gone astray; those lost in their worthlessness like the frontlet missing a coin; and those lost in their wretchedness like the prodigal son.

 

I.INTRODUCTION

 

-     LAST week we identified a missing ingredient in the life of our fellowship......that the Lord is calling us to be more aggressive in winning the lost of our area.

-     THE thesis of the message was that winning the lost around us for the gospel of Jesus was as indispensable to the Christian life as reading the Word and praying.

*     You wouldn't think of trying to be a Christian without being in the Word or in prayer.

*     And you, likewise, would not think of being a Christian without being burdened for the lost and telling them about the power of the cross to save them from their sin and an eternal hell.

-     DURING this past week, I ran into a quote from Andrew Murray, a revivalist from Africa....back at the turn of the century.

*     Andrew Murray said that there are two classifications of Christians;

*     Soul-winners

*     Back-sliders.

-     THEN, this week, our church hosted the Pastor's School, for the Assemblies of God pastors from all over our state. Dr. Dobbins was the speaker and he suggested, in one of his messages, that sending money to missions does not fulfill the believer's responsibility to reach the lost.

-     HE said that your outreach and mine, must begin with our Jerusalem...right next door at work, at school and at play.

-     THEN, pastor Don loaned me a video tape of his, by Dr. Adrian Rogers......and in it he identified what was Jesus' priorities while He was on earth.

-     WOULDN'T you think that that would be a good place to find a priority for your life as a believer?

-     JESUS' first priority was His Father......He spoke only what HE heard the Father say......He did only what HE saw the Father do. He and the Father were one.

-     THEN, Jesus' second priority was His disciples. He invested three uninterrupted years, pouring His life into them, teaching them and caring for them.

-     THEN, the next largest block of time that Jesus spent was with the lost of His day. Actually, it was mutual.....the lost seemed to like being around Him too.

-     IN fact, this priority was so obvious to everyone who knew Jesus  that it got the religious leaders mad at Him.

-     LUKE 15:1&2 says;

      "Now the tax collectors and 'sinners' were all gathering around to hear him.    But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'"

-     THEY had become so absorbed in their religion and its activities....they they had come to believe that God existed for them and their rituals, comforts and blessings.

-     THEY were so "holy" that it seemed counter-productive to them to have anything to do with publicans and sinners and profane people.

-     IT was an uneccessary and unwanted distraction from their religious activities to be bothered with the lost....especially those whose life-styles were obnoxious.

-     THEY had fallen into the trap of what Peter Drucker calls "Inward Eyes" in his book on management principles called "The Effective Executive". (Tell the story of an organization coming to exist for itself instead of those it was designed to serve.)

-     SO the Pharisees came to despise Jesus for taking time with the lost.

-     AND in Luke 15 He answers them with three parables that tell the story about three attributes of what being lost is like.....and three attributes of God as He reaches out to them in saving power.

 

II.THE LOST SHEEP

 

-     THE first parable Jesus tells His critics is about lost sheep. It is found in Luke 15:3-7;

      "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

-     A LOST sheep is a fine illustration of life without Jesus.

-     A SHEEP is just about the dumbest of all animals. When it is after food, it will graze further and further away from safety....and not pay any attention to its surroundings until it is too late and it cannot find its way home.

-     A DOG can find its way home. A cat knows where the Tender Vittles are kept. A pigeon will wing its way back to it roost......but a sheep that wanders far from the shepherd will stay lost until someone comes after it to bring it home.

-     UNLESS there is a shepherd a lost sheep will never come back.

-     THEY are among the most stupid of animals.

-     THEY are oblivious to danger around them...too preoccupied on feeding themselves to see the lion approaching or the eagle soaring above...until it is too late.

-     THEY require constant care and watchfulness.

-     THEY cannot take care of themselves...and have no defenses to protect themselves against predators.

-     (RELAY story of sheep on mountain side.....observed by vacationer in Scotland.......as told by Adrian Rogers)

-     JESUS said, that is what the lost are like.

-     DUMB.....to the wiles of the devil and his designs on their lives.

*     Ask the person who has just started using cocaine....if they can get away from it any time they want....and they will say, "sure".

*     Ask the person, about to get a divorce, if it is the only way to personal hapiness....and they will say, "absolutely".

-     THEY are OBLIVIOUS of approaching destruction.....and the eternal lake of fire that awaits those who turn away from the Lord.

-     THE sheep in this parable had been stupid and had lost its way.

-     LOST sheep are defenseless against the enemy.

*     They will see a rich man, unhappy even with his riches, commit suicide......and still pursue money as if it will make them happy.

*     They will see Aids ravage homosexuals......and the sexually promiscuous......and believe that it will not catch up with them.

*     They will see how unhappy the unbeliever really is, trying to find some grazing here or there that will satisfy......and die without hope. And still believe that it will be different for them.

-     WHAT a pitiful sight surrounds us every day...in our neighborhoods or work places.....of lost, defenseless sheep without a shepherd.

-     JESUS looked at them and loved them with a deep compassion.

-     THE only thing that could ever save the lost sheep from the lion or the eagle or death by starvation, would be a shepherd.

-     THAT was the only chance the sheep would have is a shepherd.

 

III.THE LOST COIN

 

-     THE next illustration that Jesus used for the lost was in the parable that followed the one on the lost sheep.....it was the lost coin in Luke 15:8-10;

      "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

-     MARRIED women, in Jesus' day, wore the equivalent of a wedding band...only it was a frontlet, worn on her forehead, made up of ten coins.

-     EACH coin had the name of her husband on it.....and the number ten signified that she was married to him completely and faithfully.

-     HOWEVER, if a wife was ever caught in adultery, one of the coins was taken off the frontlet by the authorities......and it became a shame to her whenever she was seen in public.

-     SO the woman in this parable was understandably afraid about having lost one of her coins on the floor of the house somewhere.

-     SHE had been careless....and lost her coin.

-     BECAUSE that frontlet was as good as worthless without all ten coins.

-     IT could not be valued....it could not be treasured or admired as long as the tenth coin was missing.

-     IT had lost its purpose....for which it was created.

-     AND somewhere in the dirt and dust and darkness of the floor....was the lost coin.

-     AND until it was found....nothing but shame would hang over this lady.

-     WHAT a pitiful condition! How sad!

-     IF someone would only bring the poor lady some light....she would be able to see where the coin had been lost....and retrieve it and put it back on the frontlet so that her shame would be taken away.

-     WHAT she needed, above all else, was light to see in the darkness of her world.

 

IV.THE LOST SON

 

-     WITHOUT seeming to take a breath, Jesus went right on with His illustration of the predicament of the lost....in Luke 15:11-32.

-     YOU are familiar with this parable....it is the parable of the lost son....the prodigal son.

-     THIS is the young man who wanted the benefits that the Father had to offer, but he didn't want the Father.

-     SO he asked for his inheritance right away. He didn't want to have to wait for his joy, his riches, his fame....so he left home to buy happiness with money...and have it right away.

-     THE sheep had gotten lost out of stupidity.

-     THE coin had been lost out of carelessness.

-     BUT the prodigal was making a wilfull decision to leave the Father.

-     IT would not take him long, however, to discover that the pleasures of sin are real, but they only last for a short season.

-     LIKE Dr. Dobbins said here last Monday night....."the devil will take you further than you ever wanted to go.....keep you longer than you wanted to stay.....charge you more than you were willing to pay."

-     THE prodigal son found that out......because when the money was gone, so were the good times and the good friends.....and he found himself laying in the slop, feeding the pigs, hungry enough to eat their food.

-     WHAT a sad situation!

-     IF it were not for God's grace...that would be you and me this morning.

-     IT costs to serve satan.

-     AND there in the slop, the prodigal son comes to his senses. He says in verse 17-20;

      "How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father. "

-     THE son was tired of his emptiness....and decided to come home.

-     AND the picture that the next verses call forth...is one of the warmest in all scripture.

-     VERSE 20-24 says;

      "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"

-     IT took the thought of his Father to bring the lost son home.

 

V.THE SHEPHERD, THE LIGHT, THE FATHER

 

-     DR. ADRIAN points out something very interesting about these three parables....and the commitment of the trinity to saving the lost.

-     THE lost sheep is found by the shepherd....Jesus.

-     THE lost coin is found by the light....the Holy Spirit illuminating the way.

-     THE lost son is found by the Father.....Jehovah Almighty.

-     THEIR priority is to reach the lost before it is too late.

-     IF it is their priority, should it not be ours as well?

-     LOOK at the rejoicing in every parable;

*     The shepherd calls his friends and neighbors in to celebrate one lost sheep returned home.

*     The wife calls her neighbors when the coin is found and invites them  to celebrate with her...the coin restored to its place.

*     The Father calls a kingdom-wide celebration...for his son who has come home.

-     DOES that tell you anything about the priority of the kingdom, concerning the lost when they come home?

-     BUT this last parable also shows us a wet blanket....the elder son who could care less about the lost son come home.

-     HE was upset that the lost son got so much attention....he was the pharisee of Jesus' day.

-     HE is the picture of the church today....so preoccupied with its rituals and comforting programs...that there is no concern for the lost.

 

VI.CONCLUSION

 

-     DR, Rogers says that if you do not have a broken heart about the lost brother...you are the elder brother.

-     THAT'S pretty strong, but don't we have the responsibility to be preoccupied with  Jesus' ----

priorities if we are His servants?

 

JESUS BE THE LORD OF ALL

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