Based On: Luke 15:1-10
You know there are two types of people in this world, right? There are those who, when they are lost, know they are lost and are willing to admit it. Then there’s the other type of people who when they are lost are not willing to admit it. Perhaps they are new to an area and realize they’re lost or perhaps they may not even know they are lost. This is exactly the two types of people that Jesus is dealing with when he tells the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coins. They are the tax collectors and the sinners. The sinners knew they were lost. They are the ones who were gathering around to hear Jesus. They knew they needed to hear what Jesus had to say. In contrast there were the Pharisees. We know they were lost as well, but they didn’t think there were lost. And if they did realize there were lost, they weren’t about to admit it. With these two parables Jesus tells them that he came into this world so they could be found.
How much better it is to be found and not lost. You know that all of us were lost when we came into this world. Before our heavenly Father found us through baptism and through his word, we were spiritually lost. We had no idea how to get to our heavenly home and the direction we took only brought us closer to hell. Because of our sinful flesh which we all inherited from Adam and Eve, our spiritual compass was leading us in any direction but home. But the Holy Spirit created faith in our hearts and we are found. Our spiritual compass is repaired and our destination is heaven.
Sometimes even after we are found we might stray away from our heavenly Father. Sometimes there may be a sin that starts to take root in our hearts. It begins with only a thought but then those thoughts start to show themselves in words and actions. That sin pulls us away from God. With that sin we begin to wander away from the one who found us, and as we wander away and we hear His word less and less, we become lost again. Whenever we find ourselves in a sin that we have not repented of, then we are lost.
Our heavenly Father does not want us to remain lost. He gives us forgiveness because of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, who became lost for of us, who became separated from God so that we could be found, this Jesus Christ tells us two parables’ to show us the love the heavenly Father has for us. Because of his love, our heavenly Father searches for each and every one of us when we are lost.
In this first parable there is a man with a hundred sheep. He loses one. It would be very easy for him to say, "at least I still have 99. I won’t worry about that one lost sheep." That is not the attitude that our Father has. To our heavenly Father every single one of those sheep is important and precious. Each and every one of you is precious to our heavenly Father. Each of you is loved by our heavenly Father. So even though he still has 99 sheep, even though he has many believers spread throughout the world, he is going to search for of his children who strays and gets lost.
Notice the excitement the man had when he found his one lost sheep. "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.’" It brings great joy to our heavenly Father to bring one of his children back to himself, a child who has wandered and gotten lost spiritually lost. God rejoices and all of heaven with him that this lost child has been found. That is also one of the great joys for the Christian church. When someone strays from the church by not taking time to regularly hear God’s word or by being unwilling to repent of some other sin, then the church has a responsibility to share God’s law with that lost sheep. That’s not easy. Those of us in the church know that it is only by God’s grace that we have been forgiven. We know we are sinners to, but we tell that errant person that what they are doing is a sin and it is offensive to God. We do that because we want that person to repent. We want that person to be found. It is a tremendous joy to be able to share God’s gospel, the good news of forgiveness because of Jesus, with that sheep that has now been found.
You are special to God. You are special and God will go to great lengths to find you. Jesus tells another parable about God’s great love for you. There was a lady who had 10 coins, and she lost one. These coins weren’t particularly worth much, but it is what she had to live on and they were important to her. She is determined to find that one missing coin, and she does not stop until she finds it. Jesus says, "Does she not light the lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?" Is not God the same way? He is persistent and unwilling to stop until he draws his children back to himself.
Again there is rejoicing in heaven when one of God’s children returns to him. And there is reason for us to celebrate as well, those of us who did not wander and get lost. We can be certain that God will also go to great lengths to find us as well if we are lost. Whenever we see God’s love bringing one of his children back to himself also see God’s love for us.
There’s also a third parable that Jesus tells. It isn’t part of the Gospel reading for today, but it fits right in with these other two parables. It is the parable of the prodigal son, the son that was lost and then found. In all of these parables Jesus tell us about the love our Father has for us, of love that is always reaching out to us when we are lost.
To understand what it means to be lost and then found, I think about a little girl, perhaps only for five years old. She wanders away from her parents in the grocery store or the mall. She doesn’t realize it at first, but then all the sudden she knows she is lost. She is terrified. She looks down aisle after aisle trying to find her parents. Everyone around her is many times her size and no one looks familiar to her. They are all strangers. How terrified she must be. Just as her heart is flooded with panic, her tender father calls her name, and picks her up in his arms. She is found.
You and I were lost with much more terrifying things and forces around us. Satan wanted us for himself. We probably didn’t even realize how lost we were and what a dangerous position we were in until our heavenly Father called our name and picked us up in His arms. We were lost, but now we are found.