Summary: Jesus shares three stories to show how much every person matters to God. Jesus calls us to repent and return to him, love people he loves, and celebrate with heaven when lost people are found.
God’s Unconventional Reach
Have you ever lost anything? It’s really irritating, isn’t it? Losing car keys, losing your wallet, losing your cell phone. They make devices to ping all these things, but I’m sure I would probably lose that, too!
Luke chapter 15 is all about lost things, and the joy that comes with finding them. The Pharisees are gossiping about Jesus, that he likes to hand around with riff raff, the scum of society. So Jesus tells three stories to describe why such people are important to God.
Jesus is the Master Teacher. He includes a story for everyone in the crowed: one about a lost sheep (that’s for the farmers in the audience), one about a lost coin (that’s for the women present), and one about a lost son (that’s for all the parents out there).
Usually a parable has one central meaning. What we pick up in these stories is that...
I. God loves all kinds of lost people
It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are: you are not outside the love of God. I have met more than one Veteran shaken by the horrors of war, who has said, “Oh, chaplain, what I’ve done, I can never be forgiven!” And I reply, “What you’re saying says more about what you believe about God than what you believe about yourself. You just need to know how great our God is!” We have a great and awesome God! Consider these examples of lost people that Jesus loves. First, he loves what I label ...
1. The stupidly lost (lost sheep)
Sheep are stupid creatures. They can easily wonder off on their own, where predators pick them off more easily, without the protection of their shepherd. They think they’re smart, yet they’ll follow each other over a cliff, or get caught in a briar patch, or grow frightened of running water in a creek. They need a shepherd.
In Ezekiel 34:11, 16, God said, “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them ... I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” A consistent theme throughout scripture is that God searches for his people as a shepherd searches for a lost sheep. And if you have enough sense to turn to God, he will find you.
Yet sadly, some people are stupid. They marvel at the Grand Canyon and how it was formed by thousands and thousands of years of erosive force of the Colorado River. They love the creation, yet they never credit the Creator. They love their children, and their spouse, and even themselves, yet never contemplate the truest, purest love modeled by the Heavenly Father God and his son Jesus who brought about the cross of redemption for all sinners who would believe. God himself is the very definition of love. Yet some people are too stupid to get that. They are like sheep without a shepherd. And they are needlessly putting themselves in eternal danger.
But oh, how the shepherd searches for them one by one, until he finds one. And then he lifts that sheep up on his broad shoulders and brings the sheep home to his flock. And celebrates! Every sheep matters. Every person matters! It’s a grand celebration. Then there’s...
2. The simply lost (lost coin)
Some people are like an inanimate object, a coin that disappears in a woman’s home. It might have been part of her dowry, this coin that represented a day’s wages. It might have been part of a necklace or headpiece she wore. Homes back then had dirt floors and hardly any windows. So it took quite a search to track down the missing coin, this inanimate object that couldn’t come to its senses and say, “Here I am! Find me!” It didn’t even know it was lost. The coin was totally dependent upon the woman to find it. (That coin would have been in trouble if I was doing the searching. I lost Becky’s car key for weeks, until she found it for me. And in a place I had looked more than once!)
To the woman, this coin had all the value in the world! And when she found it, oh, she invited the whole neighborhood to celebrate! It was a day to party! Then there’s...
3. The selfishly lost (lost son)
We didn’t read this story in the latter half of Luke 15, but you know it by its familiar title: The Prodigal Son. It’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I’ve preached on it several times. And it illustrates the selfishly lost, the young man who basically says to his dad, “I wish you were dead! Just give me my inheritance now!” He’s quite self-centered. And of course, he goes out and blows it all on reckless living. Until he grows ... absolutely ... miserable! It’s a good place to be, at rock bottom, because from there, everything else is up!