Summary: No one intends to be lost...they're lost by accident.
Lost By Accident
Lost things. All of us know what it’s like to have lost something. We understand the frustration and torment that comes from knowing that something of value is misplaced, and of not knowing where to find it. Sometimes the lost things are lost keys, lost wallets, lost money. Sometimes they’re heartbreaking things like lost friends. Other times they’re tragic things like lost children.
Lost things. You can lose your job, lose your car, and lose your home. You can lose your friends, lose your family, and lose your mind. You can lose your way, lose your faith, and lose your soul.
Lost things are things no longer possessed or retained. Lost things are things no longer to be found. Lost things...things having gone astray or missed the way. Lost things...things not used to good purpose. Lost things are things not won or gained. Lost things are things destroyed or ruined.
Here in Luke 15, Jesus talks to us about lost things. In the 32 verses of this chapter, Jesus speaks about lost sheep, lost coins, and lost sons. But in each case Jesus makes it very clear that he’s talking about sinners, about people who are lost.
Yes, people can be lost. Not just lost in the physical sense, but lost spiritually. Without direction, having missed the way or gone astray. Lost in the sense of not being used to good purpose. Lost in the sense of being destroyed or ruined. It was the purpose of Jesus to tell us about this state of being lost in such a way that you could understand the position you are in, and what you can do about it.
I. The Anxiety of God
As we begin this morning, I ask you to go with me now, and travel with me in your mind back through time about 2000 years, to a time when money was rare, and every coin was hoarded carefully and saved. Labour was usually paid in commodities; in grain, oil, or wine. Trade was usually barter; you might trade one basket for a chicken, or a clay pot for ten loaves of bread.
Go with me now to a village, and to a poor house in that village. There are no windows in this humble house, and the poor man’s door is always open in the day to let the sunlight in. Stand with me now just at the corner a sun baked brick wall, just where the wooden door is fastened to it. As we look through the open door, we see a middle aged woman whose hair is beginning to grey kneeling on a mat in front of a small pile of carefully hoarded coins. To this woman, these coins represent years of shrewd trades, thrifty shopping, and penny pinching. It has been no small task to save these coins, and the preciousness of her little treasure is evident in the care she takes in handling them.
But today she is very agitated. Something is very wrong. The quick movements of her hands betray her anxiety as she counts the coins over and over again. “Nine! Only nine! But there were ten only yesterday! Let me check again...but it can’t be! There’s one missing! What could have happened? Where could it have gone? Could someone have stolen it? Impossible! No one knows where I’ve kept them hidden. I’ll count them again...” Hopelessness overwhelms her, frustration grips her, as she realizes that the reward of her labour is lost.
These are the emotions that are contained in the simple phrase, “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one...” But remember! This little story isn’t about a woman. It’s not about silver. Jesus is painting a word picture for His listeners of something they can relate to. In verse 10, Jesus says that the coin represents the sinner, someone who is lost. The emotions of the woman are the emotions of God.
In the beginning when God created heaven and earth, God saw that it was good...but He took no particular pleasure in it. When He made the sea, the land, and the sky, he saw that it was good, but He took no pleasure in it. God saw that everything He made was very good...but He took no particular pleasure in anything He had created. Except one thing. Humanity.
The thing that pleased God in creation, and the thing that was the reward for all His labour, was a relationship with humanity. That was the most precious thing that God ever possessed. It was God’s treasure. But it was lost. When humanity fell into sin, that beautiful and precious treasure of God was lost, and the heart of God was broken.
Listen to the cry of God’s heart. Feel the anxiety that God feels over you. “How could this have happened! This is not what I intended! I didn’t want you to be lost! I didn’t plan for you to be lost!” This short story reveals to us the intensity of God’s feeling about your soul. Every soul that is lost brings pain to the heart of God.