Lostness

Scripture: Luke 15:1-10

1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.
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.”

INTRODUCTION

The Jewish Religious establishment divided the world into two groups: Jews and Gentiles. A Gentile is simply anyone who is not a Jew. But within the Jewish community, they had another division. There were the Religious Jews, referred to as the ‘righteous’ and the sinners, those who did not adhere to all the religious laws and customs surrounding the law of Moses. The tax collectors, prostitutes and many others came under this category of “Sinners.” To the orthrodox Jew, both terms Gentile and Sinner were derogatory slurs.


The Pharisees for example had no dealings with Jews who were  classified as sinners. They did not do business with them, they refused to associate with them; they didn’t even speak to them or acknowledge their existence. The stories Jesus tells in Luke 15 are revolting to the Pharisees. They have no concept of a God who loves sinners.


Jesus, on the other hand, loved sinners and even ate with them. This was highly upsetting to the Pharisees.


TRANSITION

In leiu of the Pharisees harsh attitude toward sinners, Jesus tells three stories. Three different stories but they all three have things in common.
  1. First of all: all three are about things that are lost

  2. In all three stories there is someone concerned about the lost

  3. In all three, there is rejoicing when the lost things are found

BUT, there are differences in the stories as well and that is what we will focus on this morning.

I. THE LOST SHEEP 

“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!


Sheep are dumb animals. They are not intelligent like a dog or cat, they cannot find their way home because they have no sense of direction. Sometimes the sheep just put their heads down and wandered from the flock inadvertantly. Sheep are not known for being rebellious: the goat is a symbol of rebellion. The sheep gets lost because it wanders aimlessly and carelessly from the flock and the shepherd.


The truth is: we don’t know exactly how the sheep got lost but it doesn’t matter. It is possible that the shepherd was a bit careless or just not paying attention. The reality is that the sheep is lost and it doesn’t matter how it got in this position. The problem is the sheep is in a perilous position. Sheep are basically helpless. They do not know how to fight and they are not fast on their feet. They are vulnerable to almost any preditor and are helpless when attack by woves, mountains lions or bears. The lost sheep is in danger and the sooner it is found the better. Since this dumb animal has no sense of direction and cannot defend itself, someone has to go looking for the lost animal and it this case it is the shepherd.


There is an urgency with the shepherd because he knows the animal is in danger. He/she does not wait for morning, they go immediately searching for the lost animal. Shepherds were good trackers and as long as they had light, they could track a sheep.


When the shepherd finds the lost animal, he brings it home to an anxious community. When they see the rescued sheep there is rejoicing. Many of these ancient communities derived their living from the flocks. Recovering a lost sheep was a big deal. The sheep is helpless lost and must have a savior.

II. THE LOST COIN

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.”


The coin is an inanimate object. It can neither lose itself or find itself. When a coin is lost, it is someone’s fault other than the coin. Perhaps the coin fell on the floor or got stuck in the recliner. In either case, someone lost the coin. It is someone’s fault.


Again, the reality is that the coin is lost. Assigning blame is not going to help you find the coin. At this point, you get a light and sweep the house, looking dilegently for the coin. If a hundred dollar bill comes up missing at your house, what are you going to do? You will have everyone in the house looking for that $100 dollar bill.


The coin didn’t do anything to become lost, nevertheless it was lost. We are born sinners. We do not have to do anything to get lost. We are children of Adam and he was a sinner, this makes us sinners also.

III. THE LOST SON

When Jesus gets to the third story, the lost son, several things change. The Father does not seek the lost son, not in the active sense. The sheep was careless, the coin was helpless but the son was rebellious. He was willfuly lost. He wanted to be lost. He choose to be lost, it was his own doing.

CONCLUSION

  1. If you are lost, it doesn’t matter how you got that way or who is at fault. Being lost is a perilous position and you do not want to endanger your soul by remaining lost.
  2. Jesus loves sinners and He is actively seeking YOU today. His purpose in coming to earth was to seek and save the lost. [Luke 19:10] Jesus died for you, to save you from your sins. His blood was the sacrifice that atones for sin and John said {I John 2:2} not only your sins but the sins of the whole world. No matter who you are or where you are: Jesus died for you. He wants you to be saved.
  3. A word to those who are saved: The Jews were religious but that is not enough. Jesus made it clear in the greatest two commandment that we are to [1] Love God with all our heart, mind and soul and [2] Love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. The Jews were failing on both counts. This was nothing new. Amos sums up the problem in Amos 5:21-24 {NIRV}
21 The LORD says, “I hate your holy feasts. I can’t stand them. I hate it when you gather together.
22 You bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings. But I will not accept them. You bring your best friendship offerings. But I will not even look at them.
23 Take the noise of your songs away! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 I want you to treat others fairly. So let fair treatment roll on just as a river does! Always do what is right. Let right living flow along like a stream that never runs dry!

 

 
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