During the Gospel Coalition conference in 2013, Kevin DeYoung gave a thoughtful, spirit-led sermon on Luke 15. He was able to bring new, challenging perspectives to this well-known passage. The passage is below, followed by the video of his sermon, followed by some notes on his sermon.
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
3 So he told them this parable:
4 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?
5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.'
7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
8 "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?
9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.'
10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
11 And he said, "There was a man who had two sons;
12 and the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them.
13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living.
14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want.
15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything.
17 But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."'
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
21 And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
22 But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet;
23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry;
24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.
25 "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant.
27 And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.'
28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,
29 but he answered his father, 'Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.
30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!'
31 And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'" (Luke 15)
Tax collectors - contracted tax collection out from the Romans
Jesus is seen with the tax collectors - this is more than just seeing Jesus fellowshipping with sinners in a ministry context. He took it one step further--he was eating with them.
Corollary: your pastor hanging out at the homes of men playing poker. Your pastor hanging out with people working at an abortion clinic--"See you at 7?"
Jesus loves the poor; but does He love the rich?
2 lessons about God in the parables - Note that Jesus begins each parable with, "There was a woman," or "There was a man..." His analogy was meant to bring out the attitudes and actions portrayed: "If a man is like this, if a woman is like this...then what is God like?"
God is the one who actively seeks out sinners
Parable of the woman
A drachma lost: Diligent search ensues.
1 drachma = 1 denarius, equivalent to a day's wage
Biblical parallel: the Prodigal Son. The father runs toward his son; he seeks him out. He doesn't merely wait for him.
We sometimes look at our own local, individual circumstances and cry out to God, "God, what are You doing? Am I the only one?" Listen: there is One in our cities who is seeking more than any of the Christians in our city.
This passage ought to give us patience, teaching us that perhaps the one who is so frustrating is perhaps the one coin for which God Himself is searching.
What is the mission of Jesus? "I have not come to call the righetous, but sinners to repentance." Meaning - I haven't come to call the rigtheous or self-righteous.
Biblical parallel - The meal with Zaccheus: "I have come to seek and to save the lost." This means we had better have a category of lostness, a biblical one.
We need to say to the one we are hanging out with who we are concerned are lost--that they are lost!
The hard thing about dealing with the lost is that we are absolutely sure we aren't lost. Sometimes we are absolutely convinced we are right and everyone is lost; but we
God is the one who rejoices over the finding of sinners
Each parable ends with divine joy: "There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents." "It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found."
There is something meant in the nature of joy, that it is meant to overflow. This is why sing these Gospel songs--because it is incredibly moving to share and delight in joy together.
There is divine joy over repentance and restoration: "joy over one who repents" is repeated over and over in this chapter
Repenentance is absolutely delightful to God, because repentance is an act of grace.
Repentance is not regret, worldly grief. Godly grief, repentance, brings true repentance.
Why is repentance so pleasing to God? It is because we are saying to God and the world that we are wrong, and He is right; that we need Him, and not us.
It is an act of God's grace to repent than it is to not sin in the first place.
It makes a huge difference to God to have even one small thing missing.
Logic: If the shepherd will go after a lost sheep, and a woman after a lost coin, and a father after a son, will not God seek after sinners?
God seeks out sinners, and revels in their return.
Will we be filled with relationships with outsiders, and yet still addressing the issues of repentance?
Jesus never apologized for being on the inside with outsiders. What kind of doctor refuses to see patients? What kind of church has no room for sinners?
Something about Jesus attracted sinners.
We have never been charged with being friends of tax collectors and sinners.
Are we fearing contamination more than we have faith in God's power to save? The danger that most of us are in, is probably not danger toward worldliness.
Greater is He that is in us, than He is in the world!
Jesus did not call sinners to join Him in despising the righteous, to eat/drink/be merry (tolerant), to revel in sin.
No one in the history of the world has been more inclusive of repentant sinners than Jesus, and no one has been more intolerant of sin.
What's needed more than ever in our day is courage, that says, "I am not afraid to spend time and speak with anyone; and I am not afraid to tell anyone about any sin."
Unafraid to call sinners to repentance
Let us be prepared to seek and to find all kinds of lost people.
This parable is actually about 2 sons. Both sons are lost in their own way.
Prodigal son - some of us see ourselves in this sinner.
Older brother - some of us see ourselves here. Apparent insider makes himself an outsider from the father's mercy, wanting only justice from his father, and not grace.
Like some of us, he wants to shout his "Nevers" before God, when his father wants to give him "Always":
Son says "I never do anything wrong, and you never do anything for me."
Father responds with "I always have you wtih me."
Let us be marked in our lives and in our churches by the experience and the expectation of joy.
The kingdom is not present where joy is not absent. If there is no mark of joy in your life/church, you ought to wonder if the kingdom has truly come.
God is radically committed to your joy, and His. Do you believe that God is seeking, and He will find some? Am I waiting for something amazing? How long has it been since we experience the joy of our salvation. Do you know how pleased God is with your repentance, and with the humble faithful who never left? Can you believe, lost sons and daughters, that He wants to find you?
But we must believe we were sick enough to be healed, lost enough to be found. From Evernote https://www.evernote.com/shard/s48/sh/4ea3e042-b91b-4906-a902-14a4abc9d292/c2300b4989e7e0cc7a67fa681e1ecbdc