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I'll See You at the Party

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Luke 15:1-8

Intro: Lonnie the bus driver.  My parents sent me to a Lutheran kindergarten.  Lonnie was the bus driver who would pick us all up. He had some flavoring for his coffee.  We couldn’t read very well but because my sister, who is older than I, had taught me to read a little I knew that the first word on the flavoring bottle was Jack, and the second word started with a D.

Lonnie would always let us off the bus by saying “I’ll see you at the party.”

One day the minister came in and told us that today would be Lonnie’s last day as a bus driver.  He said “Lonnie is not the kind of person that we are looking for at the church.”  I began to wonder, and still wonder, what kind of people is the church looking for?

This parable tells us the kind of people that Jesus was looking for.

What does this parable teach us?  Notice that the parable is brought about by the grumbling of the scribes and pharisees (v. 1).  They are saying “those are not the kind of people that we are looking for in our group.”

I.                    Repentance

A.                 Called for by God.  Jesus does not just eat with sinners, he calls them to repentance.

B.                 Caused by God. Note that sheep don’t find themselves.  Coins don’t jump up on the table when we are looking for them.  The reason that these objects were found and the reason that you were found is that God is looking for you.  The woman looks carefully for the coin.

II.                 Retelling-notice that the three parables are very close to being the same.  This teaches us that we must all never tire of telling the story of God’s grace.  The church can never be satisfied with its numbers.

III.               Rejoicing

A.                 Present time of the rejoicing (v. 10) Wherever there is God’s grace a party breaks out.

B.                 People of the rejoicing. Note that Luke so often is the gospel of the outsiders.

1.                  Why a women in this parable?  Often Jesus will use doublets of a man and a woman. He tells of the building and lighting a lamp.  Men build buildings, women light lamps.  Mustard seed and Leaven.  Men plant and women bake bread.  Kenneth Baily has found 27 such occurrences in Luke’s gospel.

2.                  Shepherds

3.                  Tax collector

4.                  Samaritan Leper

Look at who Jesus says to invite to the party in the earlier chapter of Luke-14:13

13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

The gospel is for those who know that they are outsiders.  Who know that they are lost and without hope apart from God.

Boston Globe June 1990.  A different kind of wedding feast.  The Hyatt Regency cannot give the deposit back after the groom backs out.  The bride changes the menu to boneless chicken in honor of the groom.  She had been a street person and she invites all of the people from the local shelter.  And so it was in June of 1990 the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Boston hosted a party like it had never seen before.  People who were used to gnawing on half eaten pizza dined instead on the finest food the city had to offer.  Hyatt waiters in tuxedos served meals to senior citizens propped up by crutches and walkers.  Bag ladies, vagrants, and addicts took one night off from the hard life on the sidewalks outside and ate chocolate wedding cake and danced to big band melodies into the night.

Don’t you see that this is what this parable is about?  That God is that wonderful shepherd who gets more of a kick out of the one lost sheep than out of the 99 who had the good sense not to get lost in the first place.  God is the host who, when the country club crowd and the bank presidents all turned down his invitation because they had more important things to do he goes out onto the skid row and the soup kitchens and the charity wards and he brings to the banquet people whom we would never expect.  The old woman in the moth eaten fur coat who makes the daily rounds of garbage cans.  The pusher, the whore, the village idiot who stands on the corner yelling at cars as they drive by.  They are seated at the tables laden with fine china and candles, and at a sign from the host they all strike up the hymn Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found (like a sheep or a coin)

Was blind, but now I see

I’ll see you at the party.  Make sure you are there and do me a favor; bring someone with you.

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