Summary: 3rd Sermon on the astounding mathematics of grace. This one is on the parable of the lost sheep. I also have graphics available.
(Count out 99 people and have them stand up. Then pick out 1 and ask this question) Which group is most important? Which group is the most valuable? In the economics of the world, it’s the ninety-nine. Insurance professionals will get out their actuarial tables and tell you that you have a whole lot more to lose with the 99 than you do the 1. The old proverb says a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Spock in Star Trek said it this way, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Obviously the 99 are more important and more valuable. (Go ahead and sit down.)
We’re in the third week of a series called Kingdomnomics where Jesus turns the economics of the world on its head. He takes what our world says is valuable and important and says, “No, it isn’t.” And he takes what our world neglects and overlooks, and says, “This is of great value and worth. This is worth your time. This is worth your money. This is worth your investment. This is worth your life.”
That’s exactly what Jesus does here. He says the one is worth enough to leave the 99 and to hunt high and low until you find the 1 and bring them back. How could Jesus ever say the one is worth leaving the 99? This is the astounding mathematics of grace.
What do you do when you lose your keys, your wallet, your cell phone, your wedding ring or something important to you? You look for it, right? As soon as you discover its missing, you priorities suddenly change. You abandon everything else until you find it. Everything else comes to a standstill, and you turn everything upside down until you find it. You will quit what you’re doing. You will put off important projects. You might even cancel appointments until you find your keys, your wallet, your ring. In that moment that it’s lost, it becomes the most important thing to you. That’s how God feels about lost people. That’s how God feels about you when you are broken off from Him. Jesus loves the lost with abandon. If that’s the way God feels about those who don’t know him, how do you think we should feel?
Let me put this story in proper context for you. Jesus is telling this story to Jewish religious leaders, to the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They were criticizing him for letting tax collectors and sinner sit in on his teaching, instead of turning them away. The religious leaders were fond of putting people into categories. There were those who were loved and blessed by God, and those who were not. There was the clean and unclean, the righteous and sinners. Sinners were the people God had written off. He didn’t care for them. He didn’t love them. Among this group were the very tax collectors and “sinners” that were listening to Jesus teach. The teachers of the law would never stoop so low as to teach these people, because God had nothing to say to them anyway. If God didn’t care for them, they reasoned, why should they?