Rev Patrick Dominguez | March 27, 2022 | Luke 15

The Prodigal Son. A familiar parable…but perhaps even deeper truths and applications than we have imagined!


Reunion | Luke 15

The reading today is two Corinthians 517 21. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come. All this. This is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the Ministry of reconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, and not counting men’s sins against him, and he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God, the word of the Lord.

Church. The Gospel and the reason we stand because the gospel is read. And so that’s why we stand through the new gospel. It’s also why from time to time the gospel will be read from a different location, right in the midst the gospel of our Lord. And again, that’s typically when the Minister reads the gospel now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around the years, but the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, this man welcomes sinners, and each of them let me see, you told him this parable. Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and Luke is one of them. Doesn’t he leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, Rejoice, with me, I have found my loss seat. I tell you that in the same way you will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent. Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one?

Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweeps the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, Rejoices, I have found my lost point. In the same way I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the nature of God over one sinner who repented. There was a man who had two sons, the younger one son whose father father missing by share of his fate. So he divided his property between. Not long after that the younger son got together all he had set off a distance country and there squandered his wealth in wildlife. After he had spent everything. There was severe famine in that whole country and he began to be a knee. So he went to hire himself out from the citizen of that country who sent it to his field beast tape. He longed fill his stomach with a positive fix, renewal. But no one gave him anything when he came to his sense. And he said, how many of my father’s higher service have you spare here? I have started to them. I will set out and go back to my father and say, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Makes me like one of your tired servants. But while he’s still a long way off, his father saw him and was thrilled with his passions for him. He ran his son through a dark around him and kissed him. The son said, Heavenly against you are no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, quit. Bring the best road. Put it on. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fat intact and kill it. Let’s have a seat. Celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again. He was lost in his spouse. They began to celebrate. Meanwhile, the older son was in the field when he came near the house. He heard music in there. So he called one of the servants and asked what was going on. And your father still the fat in the past. But he answered his father, look, quality years.

All right, I got a question for you. You ever play hide and seek?

Yes, I have.

Oh, yeah. Hide and seek is a lot of fun. Now, can you imagine if you’re playing hide and seek and nobody found you? You waited an hour. Oh, yeah. And nobody found you right? Now, imagine this. Let’s say nobody found you. And then you came out and you couldn’t find anybody. Like you’re like, where is everybody that happened to you, too? That’s crazy. A lot of stuff has happened to you guys. Yeah, well, would it be scary? Like, if you came out and you could never find your mom or your dad? So one day I was playing hide and seek with my grandson, and he’s really little, and he was doing all the hiding. But this time he said, now you hide, Poppy. And I was like, all right. So I went and hid while he was counting. And he turned around. He’s like. And I could see him. Like, I’m looking from behind this tree. I could see him. He’s smiling really big. He’s like, Ready or not, here I come. And he’s going, Here I come, Poppy. And he’s looking around, and he doesn’t see me anywhere. And we’re out on some trail, you know?

And he goes, Poppy. He gets scared. And so I jump out from the tree from behind the trail. Like, Here I am. And here’s the reason I’m telling you this. It’s like you are never alone. God is always with you, and he will always look for you, and he will always find you. There’s nowhere you can go in the world where you could get lost from him because he knows you and he loves you. That’s good news, isn’t it? Yeah. So you’re going to learn more about this guy who loves you as you go off to kids alive. Can I pray for you? All right, Lord, I pray for these young people that you will bless them and teach them and give them your Holy Spirit to know you and love you more in Jesus name. Amen. All right. See you guys. All right. Would you all pray with me now? Father, we ask that you would open up our hearts, our minds to what it means that you’re a God who looks for us and loves us through the preaching of your word. Help us to experience you here right now in your love, in Jesus name.

Amen. So Lynn Cox was a world class long distance swimmer. And back when she was 15 years old, she set the record for swimming across the English Channel at the age of 15. Incredible, right? She also, during the Cold War, swam the Bearing Strait between Alaska and the USSR. Unbelievable. She was doing that to basically as a symbolic gesture to say our countries need to come together. Not a part, but that’s not the most memorable thing that ever happened to Lynn Cox. When she was 17 years old, she was training for a 20. 1 mile swim off of the coast of California. She had gotten up very early in the morning, was swimming in the dark between a jetty and a Pier, and she intended to swim out in the open ocean for about an hour. And then she was going to go hang out with her friends. Well, as she was swimming, she said she felt the water hollow out beneath her. I don’t know exactly what that must feel like, but she could feel a presence beneath her. And she realized that something was swimming underneath her. And she thought, I wonder if it’s seal, but it felt too big to be a seal.

So she thought, maybe it’s a dolphin. But again, she’s like, this is even bigger than that. And she’s like, oh, no, it’s got to be a shark, right? And she was actually being pulled along in the wake of this thing. And so she decided to try to break off into head for sure. And she felt it moving with her, and she’s just praying that she won’t panic and she’s just trying to swim smoothly and not attract any attention. Well, what up here is this old guy named Steve who runs the bait shop. And he would often look out for Lynn as she was doing her morning workouts. And he’s waving his arms frantically. And this just causes fear to well up insider. It’s got to be a shark because the way he’s waving and so she’s swimming and swimming, and finally he’s calling out to her, Lynn, Lynn, there’s a baby Gray whale swimming underneath you. And she’s like, oh, my gosh, she feels kind of a wave of relief. And yet still some fear. This is still a very big animal. And he’s saying, don’t swim to shore. If you swim to shore, the whale is going to get stranded.

It’s looking for its mother. It’s been separated. And she figures this is a guy who really knows the sea. He’s seen a lot of things. And so she decides to trust him. He says, keep swimming with a whale. So she’s swimming with this baby whale, and she’s swimming for about an hour. And she said it was unbelievable. The whale swimming along. And as she’s pulling, she said she hardly had to move her arms. It was like she’s flying through the water. And yet she’s sure the whale is thinking how slow this woman is. But at one point, the whale surfaces, and she says it kind of rolled over and looked her in the eye. She looked at his eye the size of a large plumb. And at that moment, she started talking to the whale. It’s all right, buddy. It’s all right. We’re going to find your mom. Your mom is going to find you. It’s all right. And Steve had gotten word out up and down the coast to all the people in boats and lifeguards to be on the lookout for a large Gray humpback whale for the mother. And Lynn just kept swimming, and she swam for 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours.

Finally, she gets word from a boat that the mother has been spotted about 10 miles away and is heading towards her. And so she’s like, okay, I got to keep swimming. And she’s swimming. It’s about five and a half hours finally, and she’s feeling cold and tired and scared that she’s going to get hypothermia. And so she feels like she’s got to swim for sure and just trust that this baby is going to be reunited with its mother. When I heard that story, I was spellbound. She told it a lot better than I did. But I found myself tearing up and rooting for this baby to be reunited with this mother. And as I read through the passage for this morning, I thought, that has to be what Jesus felt. It has to be what Jesus was trying to stir up in his ears. And he had two sets of hears that day, and he decides to tell these three stories about lostness and being found. The two sets are the tax collectors and the sinners, as they were called by the other set, which is the religious leaders, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the law.

And I have to believe that Jesus tells these three stories because on the one hand, he’s trying to get to the common people, the tax collectors, the sinners, the prostitutes, all the kinds of people that would gather to listen to Jesus and to let them know what God thought of them. But on the other hand, he’s trying to reach out to these Pharisees and these teachers of the law who had this view of the common people, of the tax collectors. They called them the sinners, the Amharats. And they thought that their duty as the religious leaders in the country was to set the example was to be so pure, so righteous, so good, that all the common people would look up at them and say, that’s what I need to be. But they couldn’t ever imagine sitting down for a meal with these people. They couldn’t imagine sitting down to listen to them and understand their stories and hear what their lives are like and what their dreams are all about. They couldn’t imagine themselves serving these people. And so when they saw Jesus doing this very kind of thing, it broke the mold for them.

And they’re like, what is it with this guy? He sits down. Doesn’t he know that being with them will taint him being with them? It will likely drag him down as opposed to him pulling them up. It had to be on Jesus heart that I got to get through to these guys. And so it says in Luke 15, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, this man welcome sinners in each of them that Jesus tells them these three stories that we just heard. And what I want to do today is pick out three sets of images that I think Jesus was trying to get across to them. The first are three images of worth. In the first parable, there’s what a lost sheep? One out of 10, he said, there’s a man who owns 100 sheep, but one gets lost and he goes searching for that sheep. One out of 100. The second parable is a woman with a lost coin. She’s got these ten coins and she loses one. That’s 10% of her wealth. So Jesus is sowing us these three images of worth, one out of 100. Now it’s one out of ten.

And finally it’s a man who has two sons and one of them is lost. One out of two, he just ratchets it up each time. Do you know what they’re worth for a shepherd? What’s a sheep worth? Well, that’s hard to say because these shepherds knew their sheep. They knew them by name. They loved the work that they did. They loved the flock. It wasn’t like these things were just tools for them, although their livelihood depended on them. They cared for the sheep genuinely. And people knew that what’s a sheep worth? And then this woman, she’s an elderly woman, from what we understand, and she’s got these ten coins. And these ten coins probably represent all her wealth, all that she has to live on to carry her through her old age. And she loses one of those coins. What’s that worth to her? Well, maybe the Pharisees and the teachers of the law can understand money, right? No, Jesus has to tell another story. It’s not just sheep. It’s not just money, right? That we rejoice over when something’s lost. It’s our children, man. When I saw that look on Charlie’s face when he couldn’t see me, and he started going, Poppy.

And I could see the panic welling up inside him. I mean, my grandfather’s heart was like, I got to show myself to him immediately. I don’t want my little grandson suffering in any way. Can you imagine what’s going on right now? In Ukraine, where parents have been separated from their children because of the circumstances of war, whole families split apart. People not knowing if their loved ones are alive or dead. That’s where Jesus was going. People in the eyes of God, are of inestimable worth. Inestimable. So he shares with them three images of worth. But he also shares with them three images of lostness. Here’s how a sheep gets lost, right? Not through any intent on its own, but it’s kind of grazing around and it sees something over Yonder in the distance and it goes, oh, that looks yummy over there. And it heads over there. And while it’s chewing that, it looks over and sees even maybe more luscious piece of grass sticking out from under a rock. And it heads there. Oh, it looks like there’s some shimmering things that must be water over there and heads over there. And then it turns around and it’s like, Where’s the flock?

This is bad. Sorry, right, that was bad. But Where’s the flock? Through no fault of its own, through ignorance, the sheep is lost. And that is an image of this world, isn’t it? People going from one thing to the next. Oh, that looks good. I’ll try that. Oh, that looks good, I’ll try that. This philosophy, this way of living, this job, whatever it is, and people, they’re all around us. When Jesus saw them, his heart was moved. He said they were like sheep without a shepherd. That’s the lostness of our world. Sheep without a shepherd. But he also gives us the image of a coin. Coin is like, I was out walking. I just found this, right, a coin. It’s just inanimate. That coin will stay there until the end of time unless somebody picks it up. That coin is lifeless. It has no ability on its own to move at all. That is a picture of the lostness of people without God. In the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, in the morning prayer service, there’s a confession. And in that confession, we say, There is no health in us apart from your Spirit, apart from you, there is no health in us.

There’s nothing of life. And that’s a picture of the world without God, dead in its sins and trespasses, dead without faith. So that’s another image that Jesus shares. And finally, the image of lostness is the image of the Son who actually chooses to become lost. Father, I don’t need you, right. And I don’t think it’s that he particularly didn’t love his father. I think it’s just he loved himself more. And isn’t that true of us and of this world? It’s not that we don’t love God, it’s just we love ourselves more and we want to go off and make our own way. That’s the sin of Adam and Eve saying, we don’t need to obey you, God. We’re going to take the fruit for ourselves and gain life for ourselves and live life for ourselves. And is that not an image of the rebellion of the world that chooses to walk away from a loving God, though the evidence of his love is all around them? So Jesus shares these three images of lostness. But finally, in the midst of these parables, there’s three images of the heart of God that he’s longing, longing for the people to grasp.

When he talked about the shepherd, the people of Israel would be very familiar, that God considered himself the shepherd of Israel, but that he had raised up for Israel many shepherds, many leaders and teachers of the law, Pharisees ones who were meant to lead the way and set the example. And yet in Ezekiel, he cries out against the shepherds of Israel. He says, you haven’t looked after the flock. You haven’t bound up their wounds. You haven’t been the one to sit down with them and eat with them and know them so that you might Minister the love of God to them. As soon as the Egyptian 30 411, it says this, for this is what the Sovereign Lord says, I myself will search for my sheep and look after them as a shepherd looks after his scattered flock. When he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. And Jesus came into this world and said, I am the good shepherd. This is why I sit down with tax collectors and prostitutes and sinners to bring them home.

So the shepherd image is an image of Jesus himself and then the image of the woman. A lot of commentators and scholars believe this is a Trinitarian picture Jesus gives us is an image of the Holy Spirit. It says in Genesis one that the Spirit hovered over the waters like a Dove hovers over its young. It’s a motherly picture here of the Spirit of God. It’s not just that we are lost, but that there is a spirit that begins to work in our lives, drawing us back towards the Father before we ever turn back. And so Jesus gives them the image of the Spirit. And again, in Ezekiel 37, Ezekiel the Prophet pictures a Valley of dry bones. He sees these in a vision, and God says, these bones will live. And he says, Prophesy to the bones. And Ezekiel prophesies to the bones. And he sees sinew and muscle and flesh coming onto the bones, but still the bodies have no life in them. And he says, now prophesy to the breath, O Son of man. And Ezekiel prophesies to the breath. And the breath of God comes into these inanimate dead people and they live.

And he says this in Ezekiel 30. 714, I will put my Spirit in you and you will live. I will lift you up, I will animate you. I will give you life. I’ll put you to use. That’s the heart of God that Jesus wants to understand. So he shows them the image of the Spirit through the woman. And then finally the image of the Father. And I can imagine at this point, like Jesus has been telling this. And the sinners, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, they’re all leaning in, they’re listening to Jesus, they’re taking it in. You mean we’re worth something? You mean there’s a God that loves us, right? But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law are standing back like this with their arms folded. And Jesus is like, you don’t get the sheep, you don’t get the coins, you don’t get the money. Well, maybe you’ll get this. A father has two sons. And one of the sons, the younger one says to him, Father, give me my share of the estate. I want what’s coming to me now, right? I don’t want you, Father. I want your stuff. And the Pharisees probably like, yeah, that’s the sinners and the tax collectors going off and living the wildlife and doing their own thing, showing such disrespect to the father never catch us doing that, right?

And he goes on and he tells a story. And that son squanders everything in wildliving. But he comes to his senses. My God, the father I had that loved me. He’d jump out from behind that tree in a second. When we played hide and seek, he didn’t want to see me scared. He cared for me all the days of my life. I’ll go back and hire myself out to him as a hired hand. I’ll repent in the Ashes and dust before him. But what does the father do? He does what the shepherd did. He does what the woman did. When he finds what is lost, he rejoices and he throws a party like no other, right? And so the older son comes home and he hears the sound of the party and he’s like, what’s going on? Well, your brothers come back and he can’t even talk about his brother to his father. He starts throwing a fit. And the father comes out and he says, what’s the meaning of this, son? He said, all my life I’ve slaved for you. And you never gave me so much as a young goat to celebrate with my friends.

You know what he was saying? He was doing exactly what the younger brother had done. I don’t want you, Father. I want your stuff. He was only going about it in a different way. He’s like, I’m going to be religious. I’m going to be righteous. I’m going to be the best Pharisee. I’m going to be the best teacher of the law that can be. And you will owe me God, because I’ve been good. And that’s what this older son is saying. I’ve slaved for you. I need what’s coming to me. And the father was like, don’t you get it? Everything I have is yours. Always has been. Remember what the older son said? He said, when this son of yours couldn’t even say, My brother. When this son of yours comes back from squandering your wealth, the family wealth, you kill the fatted calf. I don’t get it, Jesus. Why do you sit down with tax collectors and sinners? Do you know what they’ve wasted? Do you know the disgrace they’ve brought on Israel? Do you know that some of them are traitors, right? I don’t get it, Jesus. This is so often how the Church looks at the world.

I don’t get it. They’re so unrighteous. They’re so wild. They are so wrong in the way they live. Jesus is like, no, you don’t get it. His brother of yours was lost. He’s found, he was dead and he’s alive again. And do you know that Jesus ends the parable right there? It’s as if he’s saying to the religious leaders, you see these people, they’re your brothers and your sisters. What are you going to do? Are you going to come into the party? Because the final image is the image of a father who’s waiting. A father who loves, a father who rejoices and wants people to know that there is joy in the Kingdom of God. Come in. So Lynne is swimming. She’s exhausted. But suddenly she sees 45 foot Gray whale mother swimming towards her. And now she is truly terrified. She realizes with one flick of the tail, one flick of the fin, she could be dead. Would this mother know that she poses no threat to the baby? Would this mother know that somehow she was trying to save this baby? The mother comes up alongside her really close, and there’s this moment.

And Lynn said, I reached out and I put my hand on her and she said, I felt as though she understood. And for a little while longer, the mother and the baby swam along with Lynn. And then they headed out to the open sea. And she says this of that. When that baby came over to me, it was obvious to me that he was asking me for his help. And I felt like I could do something. And that’s really one of the big reasons why I wrote this story, because I figured out that in life we have big moments, really big moments where we have a choice of doing something or letting it go by. And I think that whole episode of being with the whale was really key to everything that I would do through the rest of my life. Church, Jesus went to the cross as the older brother, the first born among the saved and he went for all of us younger brothers and sisters to bring us to God. But now he poses to the Church the same question he posed to the Pharisees and the tax collectors that day. Will you be the ones to now go after your younger brothers and sisters out in the world and love them and bless them?

That’s my hope and my dream and you heard me several weeks back. Share with you something that I’m doing with some pastors where we’ve been challenged to form a blessed list. And the blessed list is where you take one or two or three or more people and you write down their names and you bless them. B is you begin with prayer. You begin to just pray for them on a daily basis that they would come to know that God loves them and he’s looking for them. You listen to them the thing the Pharisees and the tax collectors would not do, but Jesus would do. He would listen to people, listen to their stories, listen to what’s on their hearts and the desire of their lives. E you eat with them. You do what Jesus did. You share a meal, you sit down, you share coffee and you get to know them and they know you. And you share fellowship together and s you serve them in some way, you serve them or you let them serve you in some way if that’s what they want. And then the other s is that you share that you’ve earned the right to be heard.

You share the gospel with them. That’s why Jesus brought so many to the father is because people knew he cared and he loved. And that’s my prayer for us as a Church that we would be equipped in that way. Does that sound good? Amen. God loves you and through you he will love others. Let’s pray. Heavenly father, I ask that you would not be done with us as a Church ever. I know you won’t, but that you will cause us to become like Jesus in every way, to be a people who bless others, who reach out and love and draw people to the Kingdom of God, that you help us to show them that you’re a God that loves and is waiting and is even seeking for them and drawing them and giving them life. Thank you for the life you give us, Lord. It’s in Jesus name we pray. Amen. Would you all stand as we affirm our faith in the wool.


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