It's the 'Lost' Chapter of Luke, the one where there is a plethora of stories about things that go missing. Well, actually that is completely wrong. It's the found chapter, the one where there are more parties and celebrations over things that were once lost bu now back to where they belong.
So its a kingdom story that is the one that hurts most the ones who attend church regularly because it is about all the one who take our places even though they have hardly been in the door.
To hear the lost or found stories (depending on who you are) you really need to listen to the first couple of verses for it sets out who the stories are about and who they are for. One the one hand, you have hoards of tax collectors and sinners eager to hear of Jesus' generous welcoming ethic of the kingdom, and you've got those at the back a bit disgusted with the same ethic. They are called Pharisees and scribes.
Now, we might think of them as a bit overly pious, a bit full of themselves. They are the ones who have kept the rules in difficult times. They haven't run off with the peoples money like the tax collectors. they've kept the faith alive amid oppression by the Romans and haven't sold themselves out.
But its the sinners and sellers out of the people who get the party and when that happens to us, be sure you'll know which side you'll be on. It's right then Jesus offers a story. In fact he offers three about the joy of the lost returning. But it is perhaps more about us watching this love-in taking place and feeling left out: aren't we all wanting to be loved that fully and unconditionally, against all the rules. A love that isn't a reward but a gift. This whole gospel thing is relational, not economic. It isn't a reward system. It is completely and fully about the kind of relationship the kingdom builds: fully loved and loved fully.
Boy that's a difficult gospel to trust...