A God Who Seeks Sinners
Luke 15.1-2; 8-10
The second of three parables in response to the Scribes and Pharisees on why Jesus is eating with sinners. Jesus is correcting their wrong view of God and of his ministry. They have a wrong view of God because they do not see themselves as sinners in need of God, and trust in their own righteousness to be accepted by God. They see God as punishing sinners and not seeking to save sinners. They miss the great love commandments and the heart of God. Matthew 22.34-40; Ezekiel 33.11
–Drachma, a small Greek dime sized coin is lost. Worth a day’s wages.
-May have been savings or part of her Semedi, headpiece or neckpiece given as a betrothal gift.
-House is dimly lit with dirt floor covered with straw or stone floor with cracks between the stones.
-Lights a lamp and sweeps the floor and makes careful search until she finds the lost coin.
-Rejoices with her friends & neighbors in the found coin.
1) God seeks lost sinners and brings them to repentance
2) God and all heaven rejoices over repentant sinners
3) Jesus is God’s instrument to seek lost sinners
Is God seeking you? Say yes to God today.
A God Who Seeks Sinners Luke 15.1,2; 8-10
This morning I would like us to consider together this second of three parables that Jesus told to the Scribes and Pharisees in response to their accusation of Jesus, “This man receives sinners and eats with them”. The Scribes and Pharisees considered any association with sinners impure and unholy. To socialize with a sinner, to speak with a sinner, and especially to eat with a sinner would contaminate their righteous life before God. The Scribes and Pharisees would never associate with sinners and would consider anyone who did associate with sinners as no better than those sinners. Tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to Jesus and listening to him teach and Jesus was receiving them, and even eating with them. The Scribes and Pharisees were upset at Jesus for such unholy and unrighteous behaviour.
Jesus is telling these three parables in Luke 15 to correct the wrong understanding of the Scribes and Pharisees about God’s interaction with sinners. Jesus is also telling these three parables to explain his own association with sinners.
The Scribes and Pharisees taught that God’s desire was the total destruction of all sinners in hell and that God had no interaction with sinners. Jesus taught that God actively seeks out lost sinners to bring them to repentance and salvation. Jesus also taught that God and all of heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents. Because Jesus knows the loving heart of God for sinners, he too is seeking to bring sinners to repentance by calling them to repentance and teaching them the truth about God. Was it the teaching of the Scribes and Pharisees that represented the heart of God or was it the teaching of Jesus? Who best represented God, the Scribes and Pharisees or Jesus?
In the first parable we saw the owner of 100 sheep leave the 99 behind and seek out the one lost sheep, and return with great joy with that lost sheep. Then Jesus applied the parable to God by saying that in the same way there is a great celebration of joy in heaven over one repentant sinner. God seeks to bring sinners to repentance, and rejoices over repentant sinners. Jesus is telling the Scribes and Pharisees that because God seeks to bring sinners to repentance that he is on earth as God’s instrument to bring sinners to repentance. That is why he associates with tax collectors and sinners.
Why did the Scribes and Pharisees separate themselves from sinners and see God as wanting to destroy all sinners and having nothing to do with them? I would say it is because they did not see their own need of God’s mercy and their own need for dependence on God for eternal life. They believed they had sufficient righteousness in their own meticulous keeping the Law to be accepted by God. In their self-righteousness they viewed all others that were not like them as sinners and under the wrath of God. They measured God’s righteousness according to the external standards that they had developed over hundreds of years, but did not see their own sinful hearts before a holy God. Everyone who did not keep their external standards was bound for hell. Only those who determined to keep their external standard could be accepted by God and by them. There was no place in their belief system for repentance, forgiveness of sin, and acceptance by God on the basis of faith and love for God.
The Scribes and Pharisees missed the most important commandment in their Bible, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind” and the second commandment which was like the first, “Love your neighbour as yourself”. Jesus said, “on these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22.34-40). They missed the whole message of God, to love Him and to relate to Him by faith and dependence on Him as men in need of God’s forgiveness and mercy. Instead they worked to make themselves acceptable to God by keeping a long list of external standards. They did not know God or the teaching of God’s Word.
Twice in the book of Ezekiel in extended passages on repentance God says, “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33.11)
As in the first parable this parable begins with a question to the Pharisees. The first parable asked the Scribes and Pharisees what they would do if they lost one sheep. This parable asked what a woman would do who lost a silver coin that was from a group of ten silver coins. Both of these questions are asked of the Scribes and Pharisees with the intention of pointing to the “how much more” conclusion of God’s behaviour toward sinners. Is not a lost sinner of more worth than a lost sheep or a lost coin? Both were found and both brought a celebration of joy. So it is with God who rejoices over repentant sinners.
The coin referred to in this parable is a Drachma. It was about the size of our dime. A Drachma was a Greek coin approximately equal to a Roman Denarius. Both were worth about a day’s wages for a day labourer. So think of this coin as worth what a labourer would get today for working for one day. Not a great fortune but enough to cause concern.
In that culture loss of such a coin would have affected the economy of that home, especially if this was a single woman or a single mother. But there is another possibility here as well. A woman who was engaged to be married received from her beloved a Semedi. This was a kind of headpiece or neckpiece made of 10 silver coins held together by a silver chain. Not only would losing a coin from her Semedi be an economic loss but it would also reflect neglect of this most important gift from her beloved. She could not wear this headpiece or neckpiece with one of the silver coins missing from it. Like the one sheep who completed the hundred, so the one coin completed the Semedi that marked this woman’s coming marriage or her completed marriage.
Homes at this time had dirt floors covered with straw or stone floors with cracks between the stones. Both circumstances provided a place for a dime sized coin to be lost. The coin could fall in the straw or into a crack in the floor. The home was dimly lit by a few small windows. The woman who has lost the coin lit a lamp to search for her lost coin. She swept the house, diligently searching for the lost coin, searching carefully until she found it.
This second parable places more of an emphasis on the diligent seeking of sinners by God. In the first parable the owner went out to find his lost sheep and searched until he found it. Here the woman lights a lamp and sweeps the house and searches through the straw or in all the cracks in the stone floor until she finds the lost silver coin. The Greek word we translate as “diligently” or “carefully” is used in other places to describe the careful carrying out of a king’s command, and the care used to cleanse the Temple. It describes a careful and ordered and diligent search.
When the woman finds the coin she rejoices. She also calls her friends and neighbours to rejoice with her. There is a great celebration in the finding of the lost coin as there was in the finding of the lost sheep, and as there will be in the finding of the lost son in the next parable.
In verse 10, Jesus makes it clear that this parable is about God seeking to bring sinners to repentance, and joy in the presence of God over one sinner who repents. It is interesting the way Jesus describes the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. In Luke 15.7 we read, “there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. In Luke 15.10 we read, “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents”. Who is rejoicing in heaven before the angels of God? Is it the elders in heaven? Is it the saints of God in heaven? Or is it God Himself who is rejoicing before the angels in heaven? Let me remind you that in heaven God’s will is always perfectly carried out. Rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents is certainly the will of God and God is a participant in that celebration of joy.
In closing let me say this. The great forgiveness of God to repentant sinners does not nullify the truth that God is going to judge unrepentant sinners and that His wrath hangs over every person who does not belong to Him. Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come.” (2 Peter 3.9-10). What Jesus is teaching us here is that God offers forgiveness to all who will receive it by repenting of their sins, but eventually that offer comes to an end.
Perhaps God is diligently seeking to bring you to repentance this morning. Maybe God has been calling you to repentance for awhile now.
Do you see this morning that you are a sinner before God? Are you seeing how selfish your motives really are? Are filled with hatred and bitterness you are? Are you sick of your greed and lust, lying and stealing? Are you convinced that if you continue in the way you are going now you will not enter into heaven? Do you see that you cannot change yourself and make yourself acceptable to God? Do you feel that everything you do is dirty and wrong and ugly? Then I would say that God is seeking to bring you to repentance today. Do not put off asking God to save you from your sins. God may not be diligently seeking to bring you to repentance tomorrow. Now is the time to surrender to God and to give your life back to His control. I would be honoured to help you in this repentance and surrender to God. Please speak to me after the service.
God sought all of us as sinners and brought us to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. In love our God seeks lost sinners and brings them to Himself in Jesus Christ. We are God’s workers to bring the message of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ to those who will repent of their sin.