By Jeff Cranston
Every now and then, Hollywood gives us a trilogy, a movie in three parts. Just once, Jesus adopted this form of artistry. Read Luke 15:3-32. In this passage, Jesus told about the shepherd who lost a sheep, the woman who lost a coin, and the father who lost a son. These stories of Jesus teach us a few things:
God will let you make your own choices.
We see this especially portrayed in the story of the lost son. A son comes to his father and demands his inheritance. Amazingly, the father in the story consents. The son, immediately after getting it, leaves home and begins to live it up, squandering all he was given.
I think what Jesus is communicating in this story is this: Because God loves you, He will let you make your own choices—right ones and wrong ones. He has given each one of us a free will.
You are valuable to God.
In the story of the lost sheep, you are likened to a sheep that a shepherd has lost. Every sheep was prized and precious. With this picture God is saying to you, "You are prized. You are precious."
In the story of the lost coin, you and I are likened to a coin that a poor widow has lost. The widow only had 10 coins. Losing one was losing a lot. With this picture God is saying to you, "You are treasured."
In the story of the lost son, you and I are likened to a son whom a father has lost. With this picture God is saying that you are as precious to Him as a child is to his father. You may have walked away from God, but he has not walked away from you. In fact, He will run to you if you will turn back to Him.
He searches for you.
When the shepherd lost his sheep, he left 99 others to go in search of the one that was lost. When the widow lost her coin, she swept the house thoroughly until it turned up. When the father lost his son, we get the impression that daily he stood on the porch looking down the road, hoping to see his son coming home. That's the way it is with God. If you are away from Him, He is searching for you.
He celebrates your return.
Jesus said: “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 15:5, NLT)
You know what God will do if you decide to come home to Him? He will throw a party to celebrate!
These three stories illustrate God’s love for you. And God demonstrated His love for you in that while you were yet a sinner, away from God, going your own way in life, He sent His Son Jesus to die for you … and rise from the dead for you! The resurrection of Jesus Christ screams that He wants to find you! Will you come home to Him today?
Jeff Cranston is lead pastor of LowCountry Community Church in Bluffton, S.C.