Summary: In Luke 15, Luke gives a series of three parables in response to the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus received unbelieving sinners and even ate with them. Evidently, His love and vulnerability attracted lost people from all classes and li
Opening Statement: In Luke 15, Luke gives a series of three parables in response to the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus received unbelieving sinners and even ate with them. Evidently, His love and vulnerability attracted lost people from all classes and lifestyles. These were people who had no regard for the Torah or for religious traditions. Jesus had made it clear that He came to save people like this, not self-righteous people (Luke 5:27-32; 14:21-24). Seeing the many needy people around Him who were lost and recognizing the criticism coming from the religious establishment who were also lost, Jesus told three “Parables of Lostness” to defend Himself and His ministry as well as to help religious people to see the importance of loving people into the faith. He talked about lost sheep who needed a shepherd; about lost coins that had value and needed to be put into circulation; about lost sons who needed to be in fellowship with the Father.
Transition: Today, our focus is on the first of these stories – lost sheep that need a Shepherd.
Background: Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia gives us the following description of sheep, the most frequently mentioned animal in the Bible: Sheep live in flocks. They follow a leader, usually an old ram (male sheep). They eat grasses and other plants. They like to graze over wide areas of pasture. Sheep are naturally hill animals. They like it best where it is high and dry. They can be raised, however, on any land that is not wet and swampy. Domestic sheep depend on humans for protection. They are very timid. A sheet of paper blown by the wind will frighten them. A thunderstorm may throw them into a panic. They may drown without a struggle if they are scared while crossing a stream. Fire in a building where sheep are kept may destroy a whole flock, because they are too frightened to flee.
The parables of Jesus tell the autobiography of God.
Recitation: Luke 15:3 So Jesus told them this parable: [He’s responding to the criticism of being a friend of sinners.] 15:4 “Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them [A person owning a hundred sheep was a person of modest income, so one sheep would have been very valuable.], would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? [The sheep were counted at nighttime which would intensify this situation. Imagine gathering your sheep into the holding pen for the night and counting your sheep as they go in, “97 (at a girl Fluffy, get in there), 98 (come on Cream Puff), 99 (step it up Twinkles), and 1… (where’s 100 – where’s Snowball)” and coming up one short in a place where there were predators, dangerous ravines, and dehydration to fear. Just when the Shepherd thought hotdogs and cocoa around the campfire were in his very near future, now he must grab the rod for fighting off predators, the staff for snatching a potential lamb caught in a thicket next to the precipice, the torch for seeing, the anointing oil for cleaning wounds; he must strap on the sandals, and head into the night to look for Snowball. ] 15:5 Then when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 15:6 Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors [all the other shepherds], telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, [break out the hotdogs and cocoa] because I have found my sheep [Snowball] that was lost.’ 15:7 I tell you, [Jesus’ application coming up.] in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent [One genuinely repentant person brings greater joy than ninety-nine people who have never left the fold, who think they’re OK because they’ve never left, and who feel no need to repent. Can I get an ‘Amen’? Heaven parties when one person says, “I’m going home to God. I’m going to live my life for Him.”].
Key Word / Proposition: The drama of the parable has THREE KEY WORDS or CONCEPTS that need highlighted today.
Title: Losing, Searching, Finding
Act 1: Losing
Explanation: Jesus is describing our condition of lostness when He talks about a sheep that can no longer be found in the fold. The implication is that the sheep was once a part of the fold, but it somehow has decided to opt out of the fold.
Observations: Like a lost sheep, people get lost for many reasons. What does it mean to be lost?
People are lost because of their proneness to wander (Is.53:6). Thinking that life will be better outside and beyond the sheepfold and care of the Shepherd, they begin to work their way free from all restraint. We all have experienced this process to one degree or another. Feeling lost in the multiplicity of alternatives and having no clear conviction of where our lives are headed and how each challenge or opportunity fits into a greater plan, we begin to nibble. Nibbling here and there, we graze ourselves into a state and condition of lostness. Finally, having gone so far that we don’t know how to get back home or we do not want to return home because we feel guilt over what we have done in the process of straying away. So being lost is living life without a central purpose and a tendency to wander aimlessly away from the God who made us. We have this propensity toward evil called a sin nature that can rear it’s head periodically and can even dominate our entire lives. This is the core of our problem.