Seeking the Lost (1)
Scripture Reading — Luke 15:1-10
1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." 3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4"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? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7I 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. The Parable of the Lost Coin 8"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." —
"Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep." Luke 15:6
In Luke 15 Jesus tells three interlocking stories. In all three, something of great value is missing. There's the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (see vv. 11-32). The point in all these stories is that lost people are considered extremely valuable to the heavenly Father. He is grieved over their absence.
In the parables we have read today, an all-out search is made. The shepherd leaves his 99 sheep in the fold to go out and search for one that's missing. The woman turns her house upside down, searching desperately for her lost coin. In the parable of the lost son, which we'll look at tomorrow, we get a picture of the father waiting patiently for his son, looking for any sign of his return.
In each story there's also a great celebration when the lost is found. The shepherd, the woman, and the Father call their friends together to celebrate, saying, "Rejoice with me; for what was lost has been found."
At various times, I've lost something that was valuable to me: plane tickets, a sermon on my computer, a wedding ring, a young daughter in a department store--only to find them again later. If you have ever had this kind of experience, then you know the pure joy of also finding your treasure again. That's exactly how God feels when lost people are found, when wayward people repent and return to him.
Lord Jesus, we know that every time a wayward person returns to you, a heavenly celebration takes place. Work in us to make more celebrations happen, we pray. Amen.