How valuable are we to God? How valuable are those not yet in the church?
I want us to learn that everyone is valuable to God.
Let’s discuss a lost sheep and a lost coin from Luke 15:1-10.
Luke 15:1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “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? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 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!
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7)
At 2016 Wyoming market prices breeding sheep could go for $130-500 each. If he left 99 in the wilderness, vulnerable to predators, the shepherd used a risk to reward ratio of 99:1, a very big gamble. Yet, Jesus risked far more for us. Do we appreciate how much God is willing to risk to save each one of us?
We stray from God like lost sheep (Psalm 119:176). Jeremiah 50:6 blames shepherds (civil and church leaders) for leading people astray. Our resting place is in Jesus (Matthew 11:28). Ezekiel 34:8 warns shepherds who do not rescue God’s lost sheep but only feed themselves. God gets angry with shepherds that lead people astray (Zechariah 10:2-3).
Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10)
The world’s most valuable coin may be a silver 1795 flowing hair dollar worth almost $8 million. What would we do if we lost such a coin? We’d sweep and scour every nook and cranny. When we found the coin worth millions, we’d feel like throwing a party. That’s how the angels rejoice when even just one sinner repents.
One Sinner that Repents (Luke 15:7; 10)
The Greek word for repentance means a change of mind or heart. Jesus wanted to see fruits of repentance from the Pharisees (Matthew 3:8). Later Christians scholars wrote of penance, the act of making things right, paying a penalty, compensation or being penalized for sin. However, good deeds are of little value unless they begin in a changed heart.
These parables introduce another nuance of repentance, being lost and then found. So, who did the finding? The parables of the lost sheep and lost coin were said in response to Jesus welcoming and eating with sinners. He is the shepherd looking for the lost. Rather than avoiding sinners like Amish and monks do, should Christians follow Jesus’ example and get involved?
Literally, a parable is a story told “close beside” a truth. The analogies here are that a sinner before repentance is like something valuable that is lost. This seems to include all humanity. The moral of the story is that Jesus is actively seeking a way to bring the lost home. Prophetically, all heaven rejoices when one lost sinner repents.
God wants us to understand how valued those are who are not in the church and how important to him the task of seeking the lost is. How many lost people do we know? What is our responsibility towards them? How happy will we be for the lost to come to Christ?