Summary: Unfortunately, many people are lost and don’t know it!
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, February 14, 2010
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
"In a Manner of Speaking": The Parable of “The Lost Sheep'
My favorite philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said: “Objects are lost because people look for them where they are not; instead of where they are!” Rather profound, don’t you think? And when you think about it, this applies to people as well as to objects. Unfortunately, many people are lost and don’t know it!
And yet if you were to tell an unbeliever that he was lost, it’s very likely that he would resent it. And he would resent you for having said it! Thus, a golden opportunity for evangelism would be lost for someone who is lost. In our fallen nature people don’t like to be reminded that they are sinners and in need of a Savior. We tend to see ourselves as being just as good as the next person and perhaps even better. Perhaps this is why Jesus often spoke in parables. In fact, a significant portion of the Synoptic gospels are devoted to the parables of Jesus.
Jesus spoke to the multitudes in this manner so that the most profound mysteries of God would be revealed in plain, simple terms by referring to common, every day occurrences; and He did this in such a way so as not to offend those who were earnestly seeking repentance of their sins.
In the Greek, the word “parable” literally meant to put things “side by side.” In other words, one story parallels another underlying story. Thus, there is a message behind the message!
This particular parable (also recorded in Matthew 18:12-14) is the first of three in a trilogy of parables recorded in Luke in which the underlying theme is about God’s saving grace. Notice the sequence: First of all, THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS HIS SHEEP (repeat).
By way of some background information, large crowds were traveling with Jesus listening to what He had to say. Included among them were tax collectors and sinners. Certain Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered amongst themselves saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” [Luke 15:2]. Jesus, knowing the hearts of all men, began speaking to them in a parable whereupon He said: “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and loses one of them ...”
Now, let’s stop right there! Notice that this particular shepherd knew precisely how many sheep were in his flock. But I suspect that each of his sheep was more than just a number. He called them by name. In other words, this particular shepherd, the Good Shepherd, was intimately acquainted with each woolly lamb. He knew their likes and dislikes, their habits and foibles. Apparently, one of His sheep had wandered off, placing himself in danger from the elements and predatory animals. But, as we’re about to discover, this shepherd, the Good Shepherd, prized each and every one of His sheep. Yes, each one was of considerable value to Him.