Summary: Here in this short passage there is the gracious plan of Christ concerning mankind; for the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
Lesson: PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP
Scripture: Matthew 18:11-14
I believe that if you were to ask Jesus to give one reason for why He came to earth, He would wrap it all up with this one statement:
11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
This testimony by our Lord begins the parable we are going to study. It is different from the parable of the lost sheep found in Luke 15. The key to this parable is the word “save.” In Luke 15 the emphasis is upon finding the lost, and in Mathew 18 it is upon saving the lost. Here in this short verse there is the gracious plan of Christ concerning mankind; for the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. This is one reason, why the angels care for the sheep of God; it is because they are following the Lord’s plan to save His sheep.
Do you believe in angels: you should? The care of angels is established in the mediation of Christ for believers. We should never look down on anyone, from the greatest to the least, because Christ came to save them, and He has given angels to watch over them. Psalm 91 talks about that when it says, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (vv. 11-12). Christians are under the constant care of angels, and it is comforting to note that the word is not singular but plural, angels. Caring properly for us is more than a one angel job. The angels are said to bear us up lest we dash our foot against a stone. How wonderful it is to know that they bear us in their hands, as a mother would give tender loving care to a small child.
All of us began life with lost souls. We start out just as lost as any traveler was ever lost; just as lost as a convicted prisoner that has lost all hope of freedom. And God has also lost something. God lost the service of fallen man, and He lost the honor He should have received from him. Jesus had a job to do when He entered into the world: it was to save that which was lost, and to awaken our faithfulness; it was to restore us to our work, and to reinstate our privileges; it was to set our feet on the path that leads to eternal life; and to save those that are spiritually lost from being lost for all eternity. That’s the reason why the very least and weakest believers should not be unloved or disrespected. If Jesus put such a high value on them, we should not undervalue them. If He denied himself so much for their salvation, surely we should deny ourselves for their teaching and encouragement.
But, I believe there may be a warning implied in His words. If Christ came into the world to save souls, and his heart is so set upon doing that work, He will deal severely with those that obstruct and hinder it. “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost”, is one of the greatest statements in the Bible, and it shows the tender regard which our heavenly Father has for His people, and his concern for their welfare.
In verses 12 and 13 it speaks of Jesus; the Good Shepherd of the sheep of God.
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
The owner had lost one sheep out of a hundred, but he can’t forget it because it’s his sheep. He diligently looks for it, and he is very happy when he has found it. The joy that he feels from finding his sheep is more than what he feels for the ninety and nine that didn’t wander off. He doesn’t love this one more than the others so why is he so happy? It’s because the fear of losing that one, and the surprise of finding it, add to the joy.
Now, I believe we can make a couple of applications of what Jesus wants to teach us with this parable. First, the parable can be applied to the state of fallen man in general. He has strayed like a lost sheep. The angels that stayed in heaven were like the ninety-nine that never went astray.