Summary: How valuable are non-Christians to God? Let’s see just how valuable they are. Let’s discuss a lost sheep and a lost coin from Luke 15:1-10.
How valuable are non-Christians to God? Let’s see just how valuable they are. Let’s discuss a lost sheep and a lost coin from Luke 15:1-10.
Luke 15:1-2 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
Luke 15:3-7 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 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!
Jesus described sinners as like lost sheep (Psalm 119:176). Jeremiah 50:6 blames the shepherds, Israel’s political and religious leaders. Ezekiel 34:8 warns gluttonous national leaders who feed themselves and let the people starve. God gets angry with shepherds who do not fulfill their responsibilities (Zechariah 10:2-3).
Market prices of sheep may be $130-500 each. Leaving 99, vulnerable to predators, gives the shepherd a risk to reward ratio of 99:1, a huge gamble. Yet, Jesus risked far more for us. Do we appreciate how much God is willing to risk to save each one of us?
Luke 15:8-10 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
The world’s most valuable coin may be a silver 1795 flowing hair dollar worth almost $8 million. What would we do if we lost such a coin? We’d sweep and scour every nook and cranny. When we found the coin worth millions, we’d feel like throwing a party. That’s how the angels rejoice when even just one sinner repents.
Lost and found is a story of repentance. So, who did the finding? These two parables were a response to criticism of Jesus being with sinners. He is the shepherd looking for the lost. Rather than avoiding sinners like some Christians do, should we follow Jesus’ example and get involved?
A parable is a story aiding a truth. A sinner is like something valuable that is lost. This seems to include all humanity. The moral of the story is that Jesus is actively seeking a way to bring the lost home. Prophetically, all heaven rejoices when one lost sinner repents.
Many proverbs warn against bad company. Tax collectors and sinners were Jesus’ occasional company. His reply to His critics was explained in three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. When so many sinners avoid the average Christian, what was it about Jesus that attracted them?
Aren’t we all sinners? In Luke’s Jewish cultural context, sinners are those rejected by broader society as undesirables. As we think of those who are out of favor with the majority, is Jesus reminding us that those are exactly the kind of people he would consider to be lost sheep?
Will we find the lost if we don’t act? The shepherd left the comfort of the flock to search places where sheep get lost, perhaps among rocky crags or thorn bushes. The woman turned her house upside down looking in all those unlikely places. What are we willing to do?
Some try to equate either socialism or capitalism with Christianity. Both miss important godly principles. Jesus teaches that the stronger, the shepherd, risks everything for the weaker, the lost sheep. Jesus sacrificed everything for us. Predators are driven by self-interest and unwilling to sacrifice. Christians are called to be different.
Let’s take a brief look at this week’s other lectionary texts:
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 is a country song, a lament about a nation breaking their covenant with God. The creation story is reversed, leaving everything without form and void. God will destroy a nation for hard-heartedness, uncircumcised hearts, evil deeds, foolishness, stupidity, and evil. Yet still, God seeks his sheep.
Psalm 14 is also a country song about a fool, a stubborn and willfully ignorant fool. They say, “Your God is nothing” and act vile. They destroy the dreams of the poor, but God is on the side of the poor. God’s correction is so that his sheep will repent.