The Parables of Christ – Lost Sheep

The Lost Sheep (Lk 15:1-7) 

God desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4)

In the fifteenth chapter of Luke, we find three parables that demonstrate this great love of our Father in heaven… 

a. “The Lost Sheep” – Lk 15:1-7

b. “The Lost Coin” – Lk 15:8-10

c. “The Prodigal Son” – Lk 15:11-32

These three parables… Were told on the same occasion, in response to murmuring by Pharisees and scribes Have the same central theme:  “The Father’s yearning love for the lost.”

These parables were designed, Not just to tell us about the Father’s love for the lost ……

But what should be our attitude toward the lost as well! 

Before we begin, let’s notice THE SETTING OF THE PARABLE

Luke 15:1-3

15:1* ¶ Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.

2* Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3* So He told them this parable, saying,

Here we see theTAX COLLECTORS AND SINNERS DRAW NEAR TO JESUS – Lk 15:1

1. The “tax collectors” (publicans, KJV) were considered extortioners and traitors by the scribes and Pharisees

a. Extortioners, because they collected more than was required, for personal gain

b. Traitors, because while Jews they represented an occupying power (Rome)

2. The “sinners” were other people of bad reputation

a. Perhaps people excommunicated from the synagogues (B. W. Johnson)

b. Perhaps including harlots, who were known to be receptive to the preaching of the kingdom – cf. Mt 21:31-32

THE PHARISEES AND SCRIBES MURMUR ABOUT JESUS RECEIVING SINNERS – Lk 15:2

1. The Pharisees and scribes were among the Jewish religious leaders at that time

2. Jesus had often been seen in the company of “sinners”

a. He selected a tax collector to be one of His disciples, and did not hesitate to dine with other tax collectors – Lk 5:27-29

b. Sinners would often linger around Him, to the consternation of the religious elite – Lk 7: 36-39

— Once again, this practice of Jesus associating with sinners brings a charge against Him 

In response to this “murmuring” by the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus now tells three parables.  The first of which is “The Lost Sheep.”

Luke 15:4-7

4* “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

5* “When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

6* “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’

7* “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

1. To illustrate their own hypocrisy and inconsistency, Jesus challenges them to consider whether they would do any different by starting out with:  “What man among you…”

2. Any one of them, with a hundred sheep, but one sheep having gone astray…

a. Would leave the ninety-nine and go after the lost one till he found it

b. Would bring it home rejoicing

c. And would invite others to rejoice over finding the sheep that was lost

And here we don’t have to wonder about the application, because Jesus gives it to us:

1. Just as they would rejoice over finding one lost sheep…

2. So there is more joy in heaven:

a. Over one sinner who repents

b. Than over ninety-nine just persons in no need of repentance

Jesus shows the hypocrisy and inconsistency of those who murmured against  Him.  But Jesus did much more:  He gave us a glimpse into the heart of God, and His great love for  sinners.  Also, what should be our attitude toward sinners as well.

Let me suggest some LESSONS TO BE GLEANED FROM THIS PARABLE

1). THE LOVE OF GOD FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOST…

1. God’s love is a “seeking” love

a. That is, He is not simply waiting for those who are lost to find Him

b. But He has and continues to reach out for those who are lost!

2. As evidence of this…

a. God sent His Son to save the world – Jn 3:16

b. Jesus came to seek and save the lost – Lk 19:10

3. Therefore we should not be surprised to learn that His disciples are also to be involved in “seeking and saving the lost” – cf. Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16

2). THE JOY OF GOD OVER THOSE WHO REPENT…

1. In this parable…

a. Jesus simply says there will be “joy in heaven”

b. The other two parables in this chapter will make it clear that God rejoices when the lost are saved

2. While God is certainly pleased that “ninety-nine” are righteous…

a. There will be “more joy” over one sinner who repents

b. And rightly so, in light of what might have happened if the “lost” had not been “found”!

3. Implied in all this is the thought that WE should have the same attitude of love and joy when it comes to the salvation of sinners!

Which leads me to one last point that should not be overlooked when we consider the context in which this parable was told…

 3). THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION DOES NOT MEAN ISOLATION…

1. It is true that Christians are to be “separate” from the world – cf. 2 Co 6:14-18

a. We must not be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers”

b. We must “come out from among them and be separate”

2. But does this require isolating ourselves from those in the world?  No!

a. Paul recognized that we could eat with those in the world – 1 Co 5:9-11

b. He instructed the Corinthians to eat with those in the world – 1 Co 10:27-29

c. Jesus certainly ate with sinners! – Lk 15:1-2

d. And we cannot be…

1) The salt of the earth unless we mingle with the meat – cf. Mt 5:13

2) The light of the world unless we shine in darkness – cf. Mt 5:14

CONCLUSION

1. Indeed, love for the lost may sometimes mean that we have to…

a. “go into the wilderness” to find the one which is lost – Lk 15:4

b. Put up with those who may “murmur” because of our associating with sinners – Lk 15:2

2. But if associating with sinners is truly an effort to  “seek and save that which lost”…

a. We are demonstrating the kind of love for the lost displayed by Father in heaven

b. We can look forward to the same joy experienced in heaven when one sinner repents!

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