Sermon Thoughts for Luke 15:1-10

Sunday, Sept 12, 2010

Luke tells us that Jesus was hanging out with “tax collectors and sinners” who drew near to him to hear him. Grumbling (loudly – since Jesus heard them) the Pharisees and scribes said, “LOOK! Jesus welcomes sinners, and even eats with them!” The subtext is complex, but the explicit meaning is clear – “He shouldn’t be doing this!” In their observation is their judgement of Jesus for afiliating with ‘tax collectors and sinners’ and thus Jesus is, for them, disqualified from being an authority on the things of God.
In response to them, Jesus tells two brief parables about loss and the joy that follows restoration. We may look forward to Luke 19:10 where Jesus will say, “I came to seek and save the lost” as he stands in the house of Zacchaeus the wee little man whose life has been turned around, and his “thinking changed” (the literal meaning of metanoia – ‘to repent’). Luke uses the same word ‘lost’ (apollumi – literally ‘to destroy’) more than 20 times, and 6 times in this one chapter alone. Interestingly, it is also the word used when Jesus says, “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. From the beginning of his ministry when he reads from Isaiah (Luke 4:18-19) he makes clear his mission is to:

… preach good news to the poor;
… heal the broken hearted
… proclaim liberty to the captives
… proclaim recovery of sight to the blind
… set at liberty those who are oppressed
… proclaim the Lord’s Jubilee Year.

In the two parables we see concern to seek, find, and restore that which is lost and at risk. There is no indication of disdain or neglect for the 99 sheep or the 9 coins safe at home. The point is a deep longing that ALL should be safe at home, not a few, select, privileged, superior or elect. 2 Peter 3.9 teaches us that “…the Lord is not willing that any should perish but hat all should come to repentance.”

The word translated as repentance, again, is METANOIA which literally meanst ‘to change one’s mind (e.g. about a thing)’. Thus repentance only secondarily about behavior or other externals. REPENTANCE is about a change of mind, of POV – point of view, of how one thinks about self, others, things, God, etc.
Therefore: SINNERS are those who need to change their mind.
Have you ever tried to change someone’s opinion of something? It is terribly difficult. Have you ever tried even to change your own way of thinking? “I will like vegetables!” See how difficult it is? “I will not think about sweets (insert here your addiction).” Again, how difficult, and its obvious that our negative behaviors come from preceding thought patterns. In Matthew 15:18 we are reminded that our external actions, which ‘come from the heart’ (or mind/will/personality) are what cause us problems – and again we see that the problem has its source internally.
Then we see how much ‘rejoicing in heaven’ there is when one person changes their way of thinking from self-focused to God-centered. More than over the 99 who do not need to change their way of thinking. [Whether there actually are any among us in the 99, or that is possibly an ironic statement on Jesus’ part toward those who were ‘sought to prove themselves righteous to others’ (Luke 16:15) is a discussion for another time.]
Finally, we return to the fact that Jesus tells these stories in response to the Pharisees’ grumbling criticisms. What did they have to criticize? What was Jesus doing that they found so offensive, offputting and contrary to God’s will and righteousness?

Jesus welcomed sinners and ate with them.
 * Jesus welcomes and does not condemn
 * Jesus receives and does not accuse
 * Jesus forms community and does not reject
 * Jesus saves lives, and does not destroy them (Lk 9:5)
 * Jesus offers Mercy and Grace, not “Fire and Brimstone”

How does Jesus do this?
By rejecting the traditions that told him faithfulness to God meant avoiding sinners. In so doing, Jesus was perceived by the Pharisees as losing his life. They believed that by aligning himself with ‘tax collectors and sinners’, Jesus was opposing God. Everything they understood about their religious tradition told them this. The problem was that they totally misunderstood the scriptures on which the tradition was a commentary.

Jesus ‘loses his life’ by forming community with sinners.
In so doing, He offers them new life in this relationship with him.
We NEVER see Jesus call out someone for their sin, except the self-righteous who think they have no need of a savior. This is so frustrating, confusing and disturbing at times when we see someone obviously going down a wrong path and we feel compelled to do something.

What did Jesus do? He formed community with them. He remained righteous and just and true and pure and all those things by the power and strength of the Holy Spirit that dwelt in him and flowed from him into the world. But he did not call people out, except those who spent their time calling others out.
Jesus ‘gives away his life’ so that others might become recipients of a new life.
I believe in the redemptive power and witness of a community that loves people, ALL PEOPLE, just as they are. I believe that in the midst of this community, the Holy Spirit will do whatever it wants. My task is to love people, to welcome them and commune with them. The Church, as the Body of Christ, is expected to be this kind of community. When we are not, we fail God, and thus become those lost sheep… well, you know how that goes.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus continually finds himself at a liminal space between

  • a tradition which seeks to conserve and thus honor scripture as God’s word to humanity,
  • and a God who desperately wants to offer life to those who have lost it, and lost themselves in the process.

Jesus ‘gives away his life’ so that others might become recipients of a new life.
Where do you find yourself in the story? With whom do you most readily relate? With Jesus, the tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees?

Are you among the 99 sheep, or are you one of those who have wandered off and gotten lost? Are you one of the 9 coins safely guarded, or the one that is under the sofa cushion?
Do you see Jesus going?
Do you see people being restored?
Do you hear heaven rejoicing?
Do you welcome sinners?

Praying the Scriptures: Luke 15:1-10

Oh God, help me to realize that I either am now lost, or once was, and that your desire is to find me and receive me and dwell with me as with a friend.

As one of your sheep, I may be safely in your fold living a life of faithful obedience. In this case, I watch as you leave us here safe and secure under the watchful care of your Spirit while you go and rescue (to seek and to save) the lost. Help me to realize that “lost” is not about the condition of my character, which will always be broken and in need of healing until I finally rest in you. Rather, I am lost when I do not know, or live having forgotten, how precious I am to you. I am lost when I try to do things my way. I am lost when I try to follow my own path and pursue what I think is best for me, failing to remember that I am, after all, just a sheep, one among many, who is in need of guidance if I am to live abundantly.

When I find myself secure, I pray that I will be grateful, both for your gracious provision for me as well as for your urgent desire to go in pursuit of those still struggling out in the storms and dangers of the wilderness. Help me to never be smug that I am safe while others seem to struggle, but to hope and pray fervently for their safety as well.

Teach me, Lord, to value myself as fully as you do. Teach me the lesson of the lost coin worth several days wages. Help me to understand how immeasurably precious I am in your sight, how you long for me to be near you far more than I will ever long for the same. Impress upon me, Seeking God, how you rejoice at my restoration – past, present and future. I know what a mess I am, what a shambles I make of my life, and regretfully, of others’ as well. And yet you rejoice when you have found me. Lord help me to never consider myself beyond the need of your finding, so that I may never be above your rejoicing.

And Searching/Rejoicing God, may I learn from Jesus, follow Jesus, seek to allow Jesus to live in and through me into my world. May Christ in me always seek, long for, welcome, befriend, encourage, heal and restore those who know themselves lost. Teach me to “receive sinners and tax collectors and eat with them” knowing that you do the same for me. In all of this, may I live humbly in you before others so that in me they may see you and find peace. This I hope and long for with my whole being. Amen

Luke 15:1-10

Solitude, Struggle, Encounter

A thought this morning from Nouwen…

The encounter with Christ does not take place
before, after, or beyond the struggle
with our false self and its demons.
 [which happens only in solitude]
No, it is precisely in the midst
of this struggle that our Lord
comes to us and says…:
“As soon as you turned to me again,
you see I was beside you.”
The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry
Henri J.M. Nouwen. Harper Collins. 1981. p29.

“Only as we are willing to confront our own sin and brokenness in the midst of our ministry will we truly encounter Christ there with us to heal us and lead us. Everything else is a self-fabricated illusion that leaves us working through our own strength against all of the evils of this world, most especially those that live inside us.” – kgc

Overview of My Coaching Practice

Where do you want to go? Let me help you get there.

Rationale: Coaching is about helping you achieve your goals. These may be professional, relational, physical, emotional, spiritual, or some combination of these. Perhaps you are not even sure what goals you would pursue in a coaching relationship. Great News! Coaching is an excellent process by which you can identify and clarify your goals so that they are concrete, specific, achievable, and measurable.

Structure: Coaching may be conducted in person, by phone, by email, or a combination of these. Coaching is typically conducted during a phone conversation in two one hour sessions monthly, and email support is available between sessions. Preferably these sessions are scheduled for a regular time (i.e. 1st & 3rd Thursdays from 2:30-3:30pm). The client is responsible for initiating the call to the coach.

A complementary introductory session affords the coach and client an opportunity to make an initial exploration of the client’s goals and determine together whether this coaching relationship is likely to be fruitful for the client, or whether some other process might be preferable.

Coaching is client-centered, meaning that the client sets the agenda for the conversation by responding to:

Question Number One: What do you want to work on today?

It may be that what you thought you wanted to work on two weeks ago has resolved itself or been overshadowed by something more pressing. So, starting with QN1 keeps the focus on the client’s agenda. Even so, the coach will likely say later in the conversation, “I remember that last time we spoke, you were going to work on _______, and I’m wondering where you are with that.”

Following the initial session, a three month commitment is recommended. This time honors both the desire to move forward without ‘dragging our feet’ and also the recognition that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and ‘anything worth doing is worth doing right’. Goals and outcomes are revisited at the midpoint of this period. The coach requests written feedback on the client’s experience with coaching at the end of three months.


I have coached inside organizations, and in various external settings for 15 years. Some of my clients have worked on developing better skills in relating to family, friends and employers. Others have come to a transition period in their lives and needed a conversation partner who could help them sort through their options and have the clarity and courage to choose among them. They have been at early career, mid career, and second career or retirement/second-life stages. Some clients prefer to work in an ordered and focused office setting, while a coffee shop environment suits the needs of others. My priority is to help you find the path that will enable you to tap into your core strengths to accomplish your deepest goals.


Coaching related to Counseling:
Coaching is not counseling. There are some similarities, and marked differences.
Counseling is traditionally problem-focused.
Coaching is strength-focused.

Counseling assumes a problem to be overcome.
Coaching assumes untapped skills and opportunities to be pursued

The Client who will benefit from coaching may also benefit from counseling, and if this is discerned, it can be discussed in the context of the coaching relationship and a referral offered if desired.

Coaching related to Mentoring:
Coaching is not mentoring. There are some similarities, and marked differences

Mentoring assumes significant knowledge and success in the shared field of interest.
Coaching assumes not such knowledge – in fact, too much such knowledge can be a hindrance to the coaching relationship on both sides. The coach runs the risk of offering ‘advice’. And the Client risks seeking wisdom from outside rather than relying on her/his own internal wisdom as nurtured and supported by the coach.

Mentoring assumes a personal relationship of familiarity and often includes working side-by-side.
Coaching assumes nothing beyond the coaching relationship, though it is not necessarily hindered, so long as the coach and client can be clear about the context and boundaries of the various relationship dynamics

Professional/Life Coaching related to Athletic Coaching
You might liken it to the person who says, “I want to achieve a challenging physical fitness goal.” In working with a trainer, that client discerns that they want to run a marathon. The trainer then serves as the coach, helping that client move toward successful achievement of that goal. The trainer does not run the race for the client, but is there each step of the way, helping the client stay focused and committed to what she or he wishes to accomplish.

Coach as a vehicle of transportation:
One other helpful comparison is to a Stage Coach or other hired transportation. In this model, the client determines the desired destination. The ‘coach’ is simply a resource for the client to get where she/he wants to go.

Call or email me so we can talk more about what you hope to accomplish.
Ken G. Crawford ~ 214-288-1663 ~