Let's open our Bibles to Luke 15. This chapter is one of the best known chapters in the Bible. It contains three of Jesus' parables. The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Lost Son. Do you notice the connection? Each of these parables stands on its own as a picture of salvation. All three stand together in a three dimensional picture of God's love. But, today we're only going to look at the first parable. What prompted these stories?
Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners... Well, that's a good way to start a chapter.
These were not two types of people but two levels of the same type of people: sinners. You've got your ordinary sinners and you got the tax collectors. The tax collectors were in their own category of sin. We would never think such a thing, would we? Especially in April! You've got your ordinary sinners, and then you've got the IRS. Well, what's interesting? The next few words:
Were all gathered around to hear Him. Jesus.
This was not a mandatory meeting for all sinners. These "sinners" were where they wanted to be. Is that why you're here today? We're all sinners. At least I think we are. Are you here because it's mandatory. You feel like, "Well, God's looking. I'd better show up at church." , listening to the good news from this man. I hope that is why you are here today. Not because you feel obligated, but to hear the good news! Others were present as well.
Verse 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, That's kind of an interesting word: muttered. You mutter when you say it.
Why do people mutter? It is because what they are saying is not worth hearing! If you're around someone who is muttering, it's probably not worth hearing. If you are muttering, shame on you.
"This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
What did they mutter about? "This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them. He not only welcomes them, He eats with them. He not only talks to them, He socializes with them. He actually feels comfortable with them. It looks like He even enjoys being with them. He must be one of them." Jesus heard their worthless muttering and prompted the story.
Verse 3 Then Jesus told them this parable. "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep?"
This was a good supposition. This crowd would have its share of shepherds, and if they weren't shepherds, they were probably people who had investments in the sheep or owned the sheep. This story was one they could immediately relate to. "Oh yes, I've got a hundred sheep." "I've got two hundred."
"And loses one of them."
Notice: Jesus doesn't say "loses ten of them," of fifty of them. One. Jesus chose the smallest number He could come up with. One. One percent. Suppose you had a hundred sheep and you lost one percent? "Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep?"
The way this is written Greek is implying the answer is "yes." He's looking for a "yes," and it would have been answered, "Yes, of course we would. We would leave our sheep in a safe place and we would look for the one. Every sheep is valuable. We're not paid to lose sheep. If we lose sheep, we lose our livelihood. Of course we would do that.
I'm glad Jesus didn't stop the question there. Yet in four more words that are beautiful: "Until he finds it?"
I'm so glad that Jesus added these four beautiful words: "Until he finds it!" The shepherd does not come home until he finds the sheep. He does not make excuses. "Well I searched all afternoon and I couldn't find that sheep. Tough luck. I did my part." Or, "I called, but he did not come. I guess he didn't want to be found." No! The search is not over until the sheep is found! He searches until he finds it. The search is not over until the sheep is found. That's good news.
See, the Shepherd knows that He is not the only one seeking the lost sheep. Someone else is as well. It's called, "The Lion." The Lion is also very interested in any sheep that has slipped out of the fold, out of the shepherd's care. He is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He is licking his chops, wishing they were lamb chops, hoping that the Shepherd will not be able to bring the sheep home.
But the Shepherd has good news for the sheep. He must deliver the good new to the sheep, because the Shepherd has done the unthinkable. The law is the punishment for leaving the Shepherd is death. So, the lion thinks that he has it made. "He's out of the fold, he's dead. He's mine." But the Shepherd did the unthinkable. The Shepherd became the sheep! The Shepherd became the Lamb to die so that his flock would not have to! He must now find this sheep to deliver the good news. "You don't have to die our here! I already did!"
"It was taught by the Jews that before God's love is extended to the sinner, he must first repent. In their view, repentance is a work by which men earn the favor of heaven... But in the parable of the lost sheep, Christ teaches that salvation does not come through our seeking after God, but through God's seeking after us." (Christ's Object Lessons by E G White, p. 189) "While we were yet sinners..."
Verse 5,6 "And when He finds it,"
Five more beautiful words. It doesn't start out, "If he finds it." It's, "When he finds it." No bad news here. Jesus finds the sheep. He has found or will find you!
"He joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home."
Notice, He does not pull the sheep home. He does not drive the sheep home. He does not yell at the sheep. He doesn't kick the sheep. He is filled with joy! He carries the sheep around His shoulders next to His face.
If the lamb loves the Shepherd, he will allow the Shepherd to carry him all the way home. If the lamb does not love the shepherd, he's free to go. But if the lamb loves he Shepherd, the Shepherd can carry the sheep home. He will love the good news that the shepherd brings. He will desire to stay with the flock, next to His master and friend. "I've been out there. I don't like that. I want to be next to Jesus.
"Then He calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'"
Today, we rejoice with this service because of the Good News that the Shepherd brings. He became the sheep. His blood was spilled and His body was broken so that He could carry us home!
Revelation 7:13,14 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes who are they, and where did they come from?"
I answered, "Sir, you know."
And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
In a few days we celebrate Independence Day, July 4. Today, we celebrate Dependence Day! Dependence on the blood of the Lamb! Let us humble ourselves just as Jesus did before we commune with Him.
Hymn of Praise: #240, Fairest Lord Jesus Scripture: Revelation 7:13, 14 Hymn of Response: #407, Sent Forth by God's Blessing
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last updated 7/8/2001 by Bob Beckett.