Parable of the Lost Sheep – Luke 15:1-7 The three parables in Luke 15 teach us how God feels towards the

lost, and they also help Christians to understand how we should prioritize our activities. Luke 15:1-7 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! Jesus spent much of His time eating and drinking with those that were generally considered sinful. He called a tax collector named Matthew to follow Him, and that same evening attended a dinner party at Matthew’s house where many of Matthew’s “sinner” friends met Jesus. When Jesus met Zacchaeus, He told him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus was glad and welcomed Jesus into his house. Jesus explained His ministry by saying that it was for this reason that He came to this world, to seek and to save that which was lost. Tax collectors were despised in Israel because they worked with the Romans who occupied the land. Even worse, the Roman government sold the contract of tax collection to the highest bidder. All the Roman government cared about was securing a set amount of taxes from an area—anything above and beyond that a tax collector brought in was their own profit. That’s why people hated and feared the tax collectors. Luke also writes that Jesus associated with many other despised people, including prostitutes. Others were perhaps thieves or gangsters. All these people came to Jesus … for what purpose? They came to hear Him teach! What was it about Jesus’ teaching that made these people want to come and listen? We are here to do Jesus’ work, so it’s a good idea to study the pattern He laid down for us. 1. Jesus had wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me.” Jesus spoke only what He heard from the Holy Spirit, and He promised this same Holy Spirit to all who ask for it. The Holy Spirit gave Jesus the wisdom to know what to say. We need both knowledge and wisdom from the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will use our knowledge of the Bible to great effect. We should seek knowledge about the Bible

and wisdom from the Spirit to know how to use it. When these sinners came to hear from Jesus, it was because God was speaking to them through Jesus. 1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. 2. Jesus loved people. The Bible says that when Jesus saw the crowds of people, He was moved with compassion for them. What is our first response when we see people who act in a way that we don’t like or agree with? Do we look down on them? Do we tell them all the ways in which they are wrong? These sinful people in Luke 15 came to listen to Jesus because He truly loved them. We have a sacred duty to speak the truth, but Paul wrote that we must “speak the truth in love.” Without love, he said, we are just a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. When Jesus spoke the truth, people understood that He loved them. They could see it in His eyes. Eight to ninety percent of communication is non-verbal. What did people see when they looked into Jesus’ eyes? They saw someone who knew what they had done, but loved them so much that He intended to die on their behalf. 1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. People will know that we love them if we pray for them. And how can we love them without praying for them? When we pray, it is not to tell God something He does not already know. It is so that we can understand His heart and agree with Him, and ask with authority that His will be done here on earth. When you wrestle in prayer for people, God will fill your heart with His love for those people and they will listen to you. 3. Jesus was a good communicator. People also came to listen to Jesus because He was easy to understand and was convincing. He preached and taught in such a manner as to change people’s minds.  He told stories: “There was a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho …”  He referred to recent events: “Do you think that those who blood Herod mixed with their sacrifices were more sinful …?”  He asked questions: “Who among you being fathers would give you child a stone if they asked for bread …?”  He answered questions: “Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  He used illustrations: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again …” Jesus did not teach religious things to religious people. He did not speak Christianese. Christianese is anything that requires an intimate knowledge of the Bible to understand properly. When we preach and teach, we must pay equal attention to: 1) the content, or what we are talking about, and 2) how we say it. We make a big mistake if we only focus on

one aspect. We must speak the correct message in a way that is easy to understand and is convincing. 4. Jesus ate with sinners. Jesus spent a lot of time with people that the Pharisees and teachers of the law avoided. Jesus was accused to being a glutton because His ministry so often involved sitting down and eating with people. He ate at Matthew’s house, he ate at Mary and Martha’s house, he ate at Peter’s house, and he ate at Zacchaeus’ house. The good news here is that our church is very good at eating and drinking.  We should pay attention to how much time we spend doing “church things” versus actually spending time with people who need to know God. All these things— planning meetings, worship practice, Bible studies, teaching classes—are good, but we need to be careful. We should deliberately about spending time reaching out to others. You can make it a part of your regular planning to invite people to your home or have a potluck at the caregroup. 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! Jesus told this story to explain why He did things the way that He did. Jesus compared God to a good shepherd who loves and cares for His sheep. We are God’s sheep. Some of us wander away and don’t follow our shepherd. The Bible says in the book of Isaiah, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us to his own way.” Sheep are completely domesticated animals. They cannot protect themselves. They cannot guide themselves from place to place. In the wilderness, they are truly lost and will certainly die. We are the same. We are continually looking for purpose and belonging. We suffer the effects of sin in our lives. Our guilt piles up on top of us. So we continue on and on, until one day we will be destroyed just as surely as a lost sheep in the wilderness. Why do we do this? Why do we cause so much suffering for ourselves and for others? Why can’t we find true peace and happiness? The Bible says that it is because we have a sinful nature. Something is broken inside of us. We know what we ought to do, but we don’t do it. In fact, we can’t do it. The Bible says that the eventual consequence of sin is eternal destruction. Jesus will return one day and everyone who is in rebellion will be shut out from His presence

forever and ever. If we refuse to turn to Him, to obey and submit to Him, then eventually God will let us have our own way. We will be apart from Him for eternity. You can think about sin and hell this way. A glass was made to drink water from. That is its purpose. We were made to know God and have a correct relationship with Him. That is our purpose. If a glass is broken, it can never fulfill it’s purpose. You throw it into the garbage. That is what the Bible means when it says, “destroyed.” If we continue to do things our own way, if we continue to wander away from God, we will eventually be cast out from His presence forever. But God made a way! Such a wonderful way! He sent His Son Jesus to die and pay for our sin, so that we can have a new life—one that is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. God seeks for us diligently and persistently, even as we rebel against Him. God uses situations and people to speak to us. When we stop and consider the direction of our lives—what we are doing—He is there calling us back to Him. Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness. One day, we come to our senses. We turn to God and find that He is there to carry us on His shoulders. Are you ready to submit to your good Shepherd and come back to the fold? Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.