Summary: Message about the fact that Jesus looking for the lost sheep.
The Father’s Concern for the Wayward Christian
June 17, 2007
I think all of us can remember a time when we’ve strayed from God. Maybe it wasn’t as blatant or drastic as it was for others, but we know that at times we’ve said, “No thanks” to Jesus and decided that our way was best.
For some it was something small, for others it might have been a flat-out rejection of Jesus and Christianity, and going into a life of blatant sin.
Some here are pretty convicted about that time you told your folks you were sick on a Sunday, so you could go fishing instead of to church.
And you’re still not sure if God has forgiven you for it…
I don’t know what it is for you.
And I think most of us can relate to the heartache of seeing someone we love and care for making that detour away from Christ, leaving the protection of the fold and the Shepherd.
And it’s all we can do to not go up to the person and grab them and say, “Put your face in there!”
“What do you think you’re doing? Don’t you see the hurt you’re in for and the heartache you’re causing others by going this way?”
Well, whether you are in the midst of this yourself or you know someone who is, my hope is that you will walk out of here with some encouragement that even if things aren’t as they should be, the Great Shepherd is still on the watch, and He cares.
We’re continuing our walk through the gospel of Matthew, and here in Matthew 18 we’ve looked at how we are to humble ourselves and become like little children if we want greatness in terms of the kingdom of God.
Last week we looked at how Jesus condemns actions that lead His followers into sin.
And today, we continue in chapter 18 as we look at the care that Jesus has for those who have wandered away from Him.
Matthew 18:12-14 (p. 695) –
12 "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”
Once again, it is helpful for us to realize that the term “little ones” is not just about children – it includes all those who have put their humble faith in Christ.
Remember, Jesus was addressing the disciples when He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” in verse 3.
Even the closest disciples of Jesus needed to change and become like little children.
So don’t look at this passage and say, “Well, that’s not me – I’m way past that.” If that’s your thought, then you need to humble yourself, just like these disciples needed to.
They actually walked with Jesus on earth, and they still needed to become like little children. Is your relationship with Jesus stronger than theirs? Highly doubtful, my friend!
You’ll notice that the title says that the passage here deals with the wayward Christian.
But don’t we usually associate the parable of the “lost sheep” with someone who is not yet a Christian – a sinner who still needs to come to Jesus?
Yep. But in this context, Jesus is not discussing people who don’t yet know Him, but rather those who have come to Him in humility previously, and have now taken a turn to leave the sheep pen.
How do we know that?
There are a number of distinctions between this situation and the one in Luke 15, which is where we see the parallel.
“Almost every relevant term is not the same as in (Luke).” EBC
The context of Jesus’ words in Luke are the concern He had for the lost sinner, for which He was getting in trouble with the religious big-wigs.
But here in Matthew, Jesus’ concern is for the little ones who have put their faith in Him. He says in verse 14 –
“…your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”
He’s specifically referencing the people He had just been talking about – His followers.
We looked last week at how serious He is about making sure we don’t cause any follower of Jesus to sin.
He used firm, harsh language that left no room for misinterpretation or mistake. It’s wrong to do, and He will bring judgment on those who do it.