Summary: First in a series about the Parables of Jesus, this sermon three-point expository sermon focuses on the sheep that was lost, loved, and lauded.
PARABLES OF JESUS: THE LOST SHEEP
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/2/14
Among the many metaphors used throughout the Bible to describe God’s relationship with people, one of the most common is a Shepherd and his sheep. David first wrote “The Lord is my Shepherd” in Psalm 23 and Jesus often used this imagery, identifying himself as the Good Shepherd. Now, I don’t really know if that’s a compliment. If you ask a classroom of Kindergarteners, “If you could be any animal you want, which animal would you be?” I don’t think any of them would say a sheep. You’ll never see a college sports team with a sheep as their mascot. Can you imagine the Southern Illinois Sheep, Louisiana Lambs or the El Paso Ewes? People will even use the word sheep as an insult, implying that a person is just a follower that doesn’t think for themselves.
Yet, these are the creatures to which Christians are most often compared in the Bible. Perhaps it’s because they naturally flock together; sheep are very social creatures and enjoy living in groups. Or maybe it’s because of how worrisome they can be. A sheet of paper blown by the wind will frighten them. A thunderstorm may throw them into a panic. Or possibly it’s their relationship with their shepherd. Sheep are able to identify human faces and voices, remembering them for years. They won’t follow just anyone, but they will hear and obey the voice of their Shepherd. Or it could be their tendency to wonder that makes them worthy of comparison. This seems to be the primary parallel of the parable of the lost sheep.
One day, Jesus was sitting (probably in a synagogue) preaching God’s word. As usual, a crowd started forming around him. But Jesus not only drew decent folks and respectable citizens; even tax collectors, street walkers, and other notorious sinners were drawn to Jesus like a magnet. As if on cue, the Pharisees start grumbling. How dare he socialize with such sinners, they whined! In response, Jesus told this short story about a little lost lamb:
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! (Luke 15:4-7 NLT)
As with all of his parables, Jesus invents this story to illustrate some spiritual truth. Jesus understood the power of a simple story. Stories are capable of building a bridge from one heart to another that truth can then walk across. As we ponder this pint-sized parable, I’d like to point out three parallels that we all share with this little lost lamb. First, the sheep was lost.