March 14, 2021 – Tony’s message
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glory of God and the power of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Scripture Reading: The Parable of the Lost Sheep
The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter 15, Verses 1 to 7
(New Revised Standard Version)
v. 1 – Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.
v. 2 – And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
v. 3 – So he told them this parable:
v. 4 – “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?
v. 5 – When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.
v. 6 – And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
v. 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.
This first parable in Chapter 15 tries to explain Jesus’ association with despised groups, something which the Pharisees and the scribes found to be at the very least, misguided. It is interesting to note that the parables in Luke are not found in any other books of the Gospels. The scribes and the Pharisees did not feel that they needed to repent because they were not lost!
Sermonette: No Exemptions
“Man is born broken,
He lives by mending.
The grace of God is glue.”
We do not grow physically by standing on tiptoe and stretching ourselves or by anxiously exercising our muscles. Neither do we grow in grace by troubling ourselves with rules and anxiously observing traditions. The gardener puts a plant into the ground hoping to reap a beautiful rose. But he does not grab the plant and stretch it up to make it grow. Rather, he attends to the conditions surrounding the plant, conditions which are normally conducive to the health of the plant and which seem to encourage growth. He cultivates, irrigates, and nourishes the plant; and he prunes it. By the mysterious processes of nature, God gives the growth and a beautiful rose appears. Our growth in grace is like that. We do not grow in Godliness by groaning within ourselves and anxiously keeping the commandments outwardly. We only attend to the conditions of growth, and God through the mysterious ministries of His Spirit gives the blessing, and in time, a beautiful character unfolds.
This point is not just a nice story; it is the Gospel in miniature – a gospel extensive enough to include both the most despised and the most respected … and all the rest of us in between!
And now let us close by repeating the Lord’s Prayer, either in our hearts or out loud:
The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever.