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What Matters to God (Luke 15)

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Sermon on 10 October 2021 by Ps Paul


What should we do as children and servants of God? Let us look to the context of the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son in Luke 15. Jesus gave these 3 different illustrations, but they are of the same message. Let us study the heart of God in these 3 parables.


Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! – Luke 15:1-2

The first 2 parables, the lost sheep and lost coin, briefly illustrates the attitude and action of God towards the lost. The lost son greater elaborates God’s attitude and action.

The Lost Sheep

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? – Luke 15:3-4

What would God do if someone leaves His presence and is lost? Just as the shepherd who searches for the one lost sheep, God is always searching for the lost. He will go the extra mile to search for the lost till He finds them. It is not that God cannot find the lost. He is almighty, there is nothing He cannot do. But he is searching for those who are willing to repent and return to Him.

And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ – Luke 15:5-6

God rejoices when He has found the lost.

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! – Luke 15:7

God wants to bring the lost back to His presence.

The Lost Coin

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? – Luke 15:8

It is not easy to light a lamp and comb the entire house for a small coin. The woman searched so carefully for the lost coin. Similarly, God will carefully search for the lost till He finds them. God will not miss out these people.

And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents. – Luke 5:9-10

There is a big celebration when the lost is found. Everyone in God’s kingdom rejoices.

The Lost Son

To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. – Luke 15:11-14

It was likely hurtful to the father when the son asked for his share of inheritance, but the father actually agreed. However, the son was not wise even with wealth, and squandered everything away.

He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.’ “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. – Luke 15:15-20

While the son was a long way off, the father saw him coming even before the son saw his father. God will always be watching us, waiting patiently for us to return to Him.

The father ran to the son and embraced him. Although the son had done wrong, it was the father who ran to his son. Despite the son’s filth, his father did not mind. There was no nagging or rebuke, only love and acceptance. God is full of love and compassion. He does not deal harshly with us as we deserve. How great is His mercy and love for us? When we repent, God is quick to come to us, to embrace us, to accept us.

His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. – Luke 15:21-22

The father restored the identity of the lost son, by bringing the finest robe for him to wear, by putting a ring on his finger, by putting sandals on his feet. The father did not see the son as someone who betrayed him and left the family. When we repent, God is quick to restore our identity as His children.

And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. – Luke 15:23-24

Again, as with the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, it is a big celebration for God that the lost is found.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” – Luke 15:25-32

The elder son felt it was unfair that that the father was celebrating the return of his brother who had done wrong. It is not that God loves the sinners returning to Him more than the ones who are with Him. God’s desire is for everyone to be saved and to live in His presence forever. For the older son who was always with the father, he was not shortchanged because he has everything of the father. Similarly, for those who are with God, they already have inherited everything God has. Now the hope is for all who are lost to repent and return to Him, to also receive His eternal blessings.

What is stopping us from coming to God? It is because of hardened and unbelieving hearts. The Israelites had hardened their hearts and complained against Moses, therefore they were unable to inherit God’s blessings. Similarly, people rejected Jesus as the Messiah even though they have seen Him. When we share the gospel, there is bound to be rejection, because people have hardened their hearts.

1. God is full of love and compassion

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. - Psalm 145:8

God does not reign down His judgement on us when we sin against Him. He withholds judgement to allow us the opportunity to repent and return to Him. God is not only merciful at times, but He is full of mercy. So let us respond by not taking His compassion for granted, but to come to Him with a sincere heart and reverence.

2. Every soul is precious in the right of God

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9

For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. – Luke 19:10

Hardened hearts are what is stopping people from coming to God. But once hearts are opened, once they believe, God will come to them quickly. Just like the father of the lost son, God will run to embrace the return.

3. Share the gospel. Be God’s witness

We are commissioned by Jesus Christ, just like the disciples, to share the gospel. We are His mouthpiece, we are the living testimony.

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God! - 2 Corinthians 5:10

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit empowers us, so let us share the gospel wherever we go, to whom the Lord has placed around us. We have no power to change their hearts, but our role is just to share the gospel so that they are the opportunity to hear the gospel. It is up to them to respond. Even if they reject us, we can still pray for them that one day, their hearts will be opened. Remember that Jesus Christ and His disciples were also rejected, but they continued to share with other groups of people. Every soul is precious is God. Who knows, there could be one lost sheep amongst those you talk to, whose heart is opened and willing to return?

4. We have hope in God

The older brother of the parable of the lost son did not realise they he could already access all that his father had. Similarly, we are rich in Christ. We do not lack any good thing from Him.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. – Ephesians 1:3


From these 3 parables, we know what matters to God. He wants us to know that He is full of love and compassion. Every soul is precious to Him. He has given us the authority to share the gospel and be His witness to share His great love. Whenever a lost son returns, there is great celebration. We have hope in God. When we are in His presence, we can access everything that He has. We have our sinful past, yet God forgave all our sins, He embraced and accepted us, and restored us as children of the most high God. God is good!

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