Let me start this blog off by saying I would highly encourage you to go to Amazon and order this book:
Reading Luke 15 and this book (by Tim Keller) has really helped me have a better understanding of the Father heart of God. That will be the subject of this blog (the heart of the Heavenly Father and His pursuit of us).
In Luke 15 Jesus is addressing the “sinners” and “tax collectors”. He is speaking to those who are known for their sin. In the 1st century culture, these people would have been outcasts. That is what is so great about Jesus. That is who He hangs out with. That is who He pursues.
There was also another group of the people there (the Pharisees and the Scribes). These were the religious leaders of that day. These were the people that pretty much thought they were better than everyone else. They cared more about how they appeared on the outside than they did about making sure their heart was right.
In Luke 15 Jesus addresses both groups of people with 3 stories. The great news is that Jesus is still addressing those two groups of people today. There are people in our culture who seem to be very sinful, and there are people in our culture who appear to be religious. I am just thankful that Jesus can speak to both groups of people.
Make no mistake about it: The “sinners” and the “religious” both need Jesus, but only the “sinners” really know that.
Jesus tells 3 stories in Luke 15, and as I stated, He is addressing two groups of people. We can call them the “Prodigal” and the “Perfect”.
In the first story Jesus tells about a shepherd who has 100 sheep. 99 of them are fine, but 1 of them is lost. He leaves the 99 to go find the 1 lost sheep. When that 1 sheep is found, there is much rejoicing.
In the second story Jesus tells of a woman who had 10 coins. She lost 1 of her coins, and she tore up the entire house looking for that 1 coin. When it is found, there is much rejoicing.
In the first two stories, we see a very similar theme. Something of value is lost, and someone pursues that which is lost. When the lost is found, there is much rejoicing.
Then Jesus comes to the third story. It is about a father who has two sons. The older son works very hard for his father. The younger son greatly insults the Father. The younger son goes to the father and requests all his inheritance that he will receive after his father is dead. What a bold move! What a classless move! What a selfish move! He is telling his father, “I wish you were dead. I just want your money.” Wow!
Amazingly, the father agrees. The younger son takes the money and squanders it on prostitutes and loose living until he is eventually broke. He eventually decides to go back home to see if his father would let him work for the family estate as a servant.
The son is on his way back home, and the text in Luke 15 says something interesting. It says that the Father was out looking for him. He was pursuing the son even though the son was lost in his loose living and sin. Once the Father sees his youngest son, he takes off and sprints after him. This would have been unheard of in that culture. What an amazing sight!
Once he gets to his son, he kisses him and embraces him. He chooses to throw a party in his honor. See how this story is very much like the first two. Something of great value is lost (the son), and the Father pursues the son in his lostness. Once the lost is found, there is rejoicing and celebrating.
However, in this story it does not end there. In this story, Jesus tells us how the older brother gets angry with the Father. He refuses to come to the party to rejoice over his brother being found. Wow! What bitterness and anger!
Here is the crazy thing. The father pursues him as well. The father leaves the party and goes out to be with his angry son. He wants him to come to the party. The older son never comes to the party, and the story ends.
It would appear the lost sheep, coin, and son represent the “sinners” and “tax collectors” that Jesus is speaking to, and it would seem the older son/brother represents the religious leaders.
Here is the irony in these stories. The “sinners” get found and there is rejoicing, but the “religious” people just stay “religious”, meaning they don’t get found. Ouch!
In my life, I have been the “perfect”, and that did not help me find Jesus. I have also been the “prodigal”, and that didn’t help me find Jesus either.
I can tell you this though. I am thankful he pursues both types of people. Otherwise, we all would be in trouble.
Here is the sad truth. It is easier for the “prodigal” to find Jesus than the “perfect”. The “perfect” are usually too prideful. Only the humble get found by God, but God pursues all!
Before we talk about how God pursues us, let me ask this. Who are you? The sinner? The prodigal? The religious? The perfect? Have you let God pursue your heart? Will you let God pursue your heart?
How does He pursue us? In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve sin, and they are overwhelmed with shame!!! That shame leads them to try to cover up. It leads to fear and hiding. Ultimately, it leads to the blame game. Here is the amazing thing. Amid their sin and shame, God pursues them anyway. He still was wanting to be with them! Wow! To see more on this, watch this sermon:
In John 8 Jesus encounters a woman who has been caught in adultery. Religious leaders bring this woman to Jesus. I believe these religious leaders wanted Jesus to condemn this woman in her sin (by stoning her). The story is fascinating. Jesus says “the one who is without sin can throw the first stone”. All her accusers leave. Jesus asks the woman, “Where are those who wanted to condemn you.” The woman indicates that they are gone. Jesus looks at her and says, “Neither do I condemn you!” He then encourages her to leave her life of sin. To hear more on this, click on this sermon link, and pick it up at the 22:00 minute mark:
So how does God pursue us? He comes to us in our sin. He comes to us in our shame. He pursues us! He pursues our sinful, lustful, greedy, “prodigal” heart. He pursues our prideful, religious, and “perfect” heart. Why? The path of both sons/brothers in Luke 15 leads to hell. He wants us to have life with Him!!! I am so thankful for God’s pursuit of my heart to rescue me from hell and to give me abundant life here on earth and eternal life in heaven.
Questions to consider:
Have I let this God pursue my heart?
If I have,
Do I pursue people with the Gospel like this?
Do I pursue my children’s hearts like this?
Do I tell God how thankful I am in his pursuit of me and my messed-up heart?
I am so thankful to the God of Luke 15, Genesis 3, and John 8. He is the God who pursues my heart!!!