Summary: Our Lord came into a world that believed that God cared only for the good and obedient. The people of his day thought that God was impassive and unconcerned and unmoved about those who were non religious.
The Saviour’s concern and our concern
Text: Luke 15:2 “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
Our Lord came into a world that believed that God cared only for the good and obedient. The people of his day thought that God was impassive and unconcerned and unmoved about those who were non religious.
They thought that God could not be interested in anyone except the very best of people. Consequently, Jesus’ conduct was greatly misunderstood by them.
Jesus was severely criticized by the religious people of his day because he was concerned for the welfare of the non religious people around him.
He responded to this charge with the great parables found in Luke 15, which are really one parable made up of three short stories that deal with God’s deep concern for all of humankind—the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Let us try to put ourselves in the middle of this parable and hear what Jesus was trying to communicate.
Reading Luke 15:1-7 “Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
I. The ninety and nine who were safe.
When we, as followers of Christ, in the present day read this parable, we immediately identify with the ninety-nine sheep that were safe in the fold.
We rejoice over being one of the ninety-nine. We are content to be included in the fortunate majority of this parable. We are grateful for the fact that we have come to know the Good Shepherd, and we enjoy the safety and provi¬sions of his loving care.
I think that because of our unconscious identification with the ninety-nine, we can miss the point of the parable.
We can become apathetic and indifferent in regard to the lost sheep that is out in the darkness of the night.
Without intending to, we become brothers to the elder brother who enters the picture toward the end of this chapter. We forget the grace of God that reached out to us, and we become self-righteous and cold hearted.
II. The lost sheep.
It is not the ninety-nine but the lost sheep that is under consideration in this parable.
The lost sheep is the symbol of those without God, those who are out in the darkness and danger of a midnight where there is no light, no joy, and no safety.
Christ as the Good Shepherd came into the darkness of our world to reveal the concern God has for us.
III. "The searching shepherd.
The shepherd had concern in his heart for the welfare of the lost sheep when he discovered it was missing from the flock.
Because of his concern for the sheep, and because of his love for each one, he went out into the dark¬ness and danger and loneliness of the night, continuing to search until the lost sheep was found and restored. He experienced great joy upon finding the lost sheep, and he lovingly carried it to the safety of the fold.
IV. The Good Shepherd continues to seek the lost sheep.
Our Lord wants to use the church in the world today to seek the lost.
A. He wants to use pastors and ministers in this quest.
B. He wants the deacons to participate in the search.
C. The Good Shepherd needs good Sunday school teachers to teach the Word and dis¬ciple people in Bible study.
D. The Good Shepherd, through the Holy Spirit, has bestowed on the individual mem¬bers of the church the gifts they need to be effective in searching for lost sheep.
Do we really care about those who are not enjoying the safety of the fold?
Think about the many people that seem to be in the flock but are really lost sheep.
Think about those who are part of the fold but live like or act like lost sheep.
Think about yesterday, and those who could have been part of the fold in the afternoon as we welcomed the lost sheep who came to visit.