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Until You’re Found

November 17, 2011

So…we have wiener dogs.  Yes…plural, and yes…wiener.  One is sort of old and slow…he’s reached that grumpy age where he’s really only motivated by his addiction to treats.  The other one is really still a puppy…she bounces everywhere she goes in sort of an obnoxious flurry of energy that if we could manage to harness for constructive purposes…would be priceless.  I have no shame…these are our pets…my wife and kids love them.

 If you will…and after that lame dog opening, I hope you will…take a moment and read through Luke 14:35 – 15:10.

 I have to admit that my affections for the dogs are somewhere between, “We’re glad to have you here” and “Not on the carpet.”  And what I hear from people a lot of the time leads me to believe that this is how many of us think that God feels about us.  There seems to be a prevailing thought that God is fine with us showing up for the party…we just better be sure that we have our act together when we get there.  So it’s not that God doesn’t want us to be there…He just doesn’t want us to get anything on the carpet.

 In these two parables, we see a picture of our Creator that stands in stark contrast to this way of thinking.  He begins with a parable about a lost sheep.  Now, it’s important to remember who the people are who keep sheep.  Jesus was into contextualization, and the shepherds were part of the group that Luke called the “sinners.”  They were dirty, usually kept to themselves…slept out in fields by night…you know, that sort of thing.  In the parable, Christ uses a person of moderately ill-repute to represent the Father.  And in the parable, it’s not that the shepherd loses the sheep, takes inventory, and decides there are enough of them remaining.  It’s not that he tells his boys how much he’d like to have that sheep back and then “hopes” that the sheep manages to find its way home.  The shepherd goes after it “until he finds it.” 

 In the parable of the lost coin, it is a woman that Jesus inserts into the role of God the Father.  Again, women were at best a marginalized people of the time, much like the shepherds.  And here again, it’s not the woman losing a coin and being content with the ones that she has remaining.  It’s not her hoping that someone will come along and offer her another coin in its place.  In the parable, the woman lights a lamp to sweep the house and “seek diligently until she finds it.”  Just like the shepherd in the first parable…she seeks what is lost until she finds it.

 Jesus follows both of these parables by saying how those who were seeking rejoiced when they found that which hadbeen lost.  Verse 10 says, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  You have to understand that this is why Jesus came to dwell among us.  This is why the author of Hebrews said, speaking of Jesus, that “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”  Jesus wasn’t giddy on the cross.  Jesus didn’t enjoy the cross.  But, and don’t miss this, Jesus understood the cross.  “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Jesus understood the cross.  Jesus understood the pain of losing that which is treasured.  He knew the pain of seeing what was beloved become tarnished.  He knew the agony of the search, and the pain required to find it.  Jesus lit a lamp on Calvary that day.  Jesus swept the floor.  That’s what the cross is all about.  It’s not about getting your junk together and coming home…it’s that Jesus took all your junk and then brought you home.  The beckoning of the cross is not to wipe your feet and brush your hair…it’s to life.

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