Luke 15:4-5 ~ “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Jesus tends to the ‘lost and found’ of souls. Souls are priceless and there is tremendous celebration in heaven when one crosses over from death to life. Moreover, God is a seeking God. He looks for the lost and then woos them into the blessing of salvation. What joy settles into the heart of God when a sinner chooses the way of Jesus and his righteousness. When the Hound Dog of Heaven, the Holy Spirit, confronts us with the reality of our lost estate, we will either reject his invitation of love or embrace it. Everyone is welcome to come in from the wilderness and rest on the everlasting shoulders of God. Everyone is lost and everyone is invited to be a saint by virtue of their ability to accept that only Jesus is the Good shepherd who calls out to them by name. Jesus comes to seek and to save that which is lost. The image of verse 5 is that of a wandering, weary and lost soul being carefully lifted from the plight of damnation and placed in the loving care of his Heavenly Father. Every soul is valuable. Jesus seeks you out. He reveals redemption and offers us the experience of divine joy as expressed through God Himself. With everything that must consume God, He still finds the time to receive you into His holy home.
Luke 14:34-35 ~
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
The Christian is likened to a spice that is to bring a fabulous flavor to the world. However, if the spice becomes stale and loses its flavor, it cannot be used as intended. It is discarded. Christians are flavor to life’s circumstances. They season the daily routine of the mundane and trivial. As a “seasoning”, Christians leave behind them a sampling of flavor and aroma of God’s provision and presence. We are to be as appetizers as a foretaste of God’s mercy and grace. Luke 14:34 gives a stern warning that IF we fail to bring the fabulous flavor of God to the assorted dishes that life serves, we become good for nothing. How can the world be seasoned if we lose our flavor of salvation? The condition of the word “if” is that if we lose our passion for the Lord, we may be deemed as worthless and thrown out. Therefore, it is imperative to nurture our spirituality so that our seasoning retains the sacred flavor of God’s saving grace. This scripture underscores our purpose as children of God and the serious nature of our sanctification, our responsibility as salt to the world. The provocative question is this: can our salvation be forfeited if we lose our flavor, our passion for the holy and risen Savior?
Luke 14:26 ~ “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”
The “if” contained in this verse causes much distress to those considering the prospect of being a disciple of Jesus. To be clear, Christian discipleship is the centerpiece of this difficult proposition. On the surface, one may perceive the statement as Jesus simply instructing folks to hate their families and their own life in order to follow him. How can a loving God teach hatred? Why does coming to Jesus involve such a radical teaching? Recognizing that Jesus incorporates several teaching methods to get through to people, we know that Jesus is not really teaching us to hate our family or our own life. Jesus’ oratory wants us to see two important things. First, the priorities we set in terms of worship and secondly, how are we to deal with family rejection over our faith in God. To be a true disciple of Jesus is to place him before all things that vie for our attention and affection. Jesus makes it clear that our decision to follow him will require sacrifices of habits and attitudes that are contrary to the Spirit. Things which are of great importance to us must be reevaluated in light of our salvation and sanctification. Scripture does affirm that we are to care for our families, but they may reject us because of our faith in Jesus. Are you willing to trade your salvation and relationship with God in for your family’s acceptance? Are you willing to risk your soul for the sake of keeping peace with your relatives? All of us encounter a level of rejection because of faith in Jesus, and we are tested through it. Who’s approval do you seek? To be a disciple of Jesus requires total allegiance to him, totally devoted to seeking ultimate communion with him, not being intimidated for our faith by even those closest to us. The scripture is indeed challenging and underscores the value of Christian discipleship. We don’t hate our own life and our family, but our relationship with Jesus should not be compromised by anyone or anything.
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
This parable gives a glimpse into the stern warning of judgment, specifically to Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The parable features a man (God) and his vineyard (people with a special relationship with God). According to this parable, God is patient with the harvest of crops, namely the bearing of good fruit by God’s people. The Israelites were chosen with the specific duty to display proper worship of God to the Gentiles (non-Jews), and Jesus was warning the Jews of what was expected of them in light of God’s mercy and favor towards them. Though a few Jews recognized Jesus as the Messiah, many did not believe preventing them from bearing the fruit needed to benefit the spreading of the Gospel. If the fig tree bears fruit, that is great. But if it doesn’t, cut it down. From a prophetic standpoint, the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70AD was the result of the Jews unfruitfulness. Because they failed the mission of responding appropriately to the coming of Christ, God’s disappointment in the Jews inaction, the non-Jews received the grace and responsibility to spread the Gospel. What does that say to us? The “if” still stands as a condition pertaining to our faithfulness and willingness to display genuine worship of God to a watching world. A tall order! With our salvation comes responsibility. But we are immersed in the character of God, we shall exhibit His traits of justice, mercy, compassion and goodness towards those who are marginalized and unlovable. It’s not too late to start bearing fruit that will last.
37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Be ready so you don’t have to get ready! That’s what this passage teaches us. If you wait till the minute to prepare for a trip, you may encounter a situation where you miss the boat…you miss your flight. Jesus uses the imagery of two types of servants to teach the importance of vigilance. Vigilance of what? Vigilance in our watch for the coming of Jesus when he will return to Earth to collect his bride the Church. I trust we are faithful servants of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Because if we are, we will be ready for when the Master comes in all of His majesty and power. Faithful servants are on the lookout for this next unfolding of God’s redemptive plan when Jesus will appear whereupon every eye shall see him and every knee shall bow. What a glorious sight this shall be. Those who are living when this occurs had better be prepared for the judgment and for the ecstatic period of glorification. Some Christians start out being ready but become distracted by the circumstances of life. They lose their focus. They take their eyes off Jesus and risk missing their flight unto the blessings stored in heaven for them. Be ready so you don’t have to get ready. Have your bags packed. Have your ticket in hand for this incredible journey. We don’t know when Jesus will return so we always have to be ready. We always have to be in Christ. We should always be contrite and repentant. We should always be in close communion with the God of our salvation. Jesus will come when we don’t expect him. What a sobering truth. Are you ready?
25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
Imagine yourself gaining the whole world. You have accumulated ALL wealth and exercise power over all nations. The people of the world adore you and gladly receive you as having all authority to exact justice according to your standard of ethics and behavior. You have it all. All your desires are fulfilled and there is nothing left to want. You have the best healthcare plan money can buy and you are surrounded by people to execute your wildest whim. You. Indeed have gained the whole world. Nothing stands in your way as all earthly means that you coveted are successfully gained and you are content.
Well, maybe you haven’t gained the whole world but you have an awesome career, a large and loving family, a summer home, excellent health and a retirement stash. In a sense you have gained the world. You have gained much of the sought after material things this world has to offer. Only one thing has been neglected. The salvation of your soul. Because of that neglect, you are exempt from entering the blessing of eternal bliss of basking in the very presence of God. How we forget that we can’t take anything with us when our bodies cease to live. The things of this earth will rot and rust, but our soul is eternal and is destined to live in one of two dimensions. The wealthy and the poor both must keep things in proper perspective if salvation of the soul is desired. The apple of temptation to lean towards the world’s philosophy is very attractive. But the holiness of God should be most attractive to the genuine Christian. Remember, we can be very happy with our accomplishments, but what good is it IF we neglect to keep Christ in the center of our lives.
Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,[a] and follow Me.
In this verse, Jesus is instructing his disciples about a condition for following him. In fact, the “IF” addresses three conditions for being Jesus’ disciple. First of all, we notice that anyone can be a follower of Christ. Being a disciple is not for just a select few, but for everyone. Anyone who so desires can chase after Jesus if they deny themselves as their god. Secondly, Jesus must be at the helm. Jesus must be in charge. The teachings of Jesus must be the sole source of guidance and hope. Thirdly, we must adhere to the first two conditions continually. Following Jesus is not following a belief system or philosophy, but following the actual person of Jesus. If we desire to be part of God’s redemptive plan, we have to make sacrifices as Christ was the sacrifice needed for our forgiveness and salvation.