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Lost Sheep

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THE PARABLES OF JESUS

The Lost Sheep (Lk 15:1-7)

INTRODUCTION

1. In previous parables we have seen expressed the Father's desire that the lost be saved...
a. E.g., "The Wedding Feast" - Mt 22:1-14
b. E.g., "The Great Supper" - Lk 14:15-24
...both of which revealed the Father's desire that many enjoy the wonderful blessings to be found in His kingdom

2. In the fifteenth chapter of Luke, we find three more parables that reveal the 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
3. These three parables...
a. Were told on the same occasion, in response to murmuring by Pharisees and scribes
b. Have the same central theme: "The Father's yearning love for the lost" (Hendriksen)
4. These parables were designed, though...
a. Not just to tell us about the Father's love for the lost
b. But what should be our attitude toward the lost as well!
[The first of these three parables is "The Lost Sheep" (Lk 15:1-7).
As we endeavor to appreciate its full meaning, let's begin by noticing...]

I. THE SETTING OF THE PARABLE

A. TAX 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 often 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
Just as they were interested in hearing what John had to say, so they were interested in listening to Jesus!

B. 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", and
in verses 4-7 we find....]

II. THE PARABLE ITSELF, AND JESUS' APPLICATION

A. THE PARABLE - Lk 15:4-6

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 of 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
B. THE APPLICATION BY JESUS - Lk 15:7

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
[In this simple parable, 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 our attitude should be toward sinners as well.

With that in mind, here is a summary of some...]

III. LESSONS TO BE GLEANED FROM THE PARABLE

A. 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

B. 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...]

C. 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 our Father in heaven, and His Son Jesus Christ
b. We can look forward to the same joy experienced in heaven when one sinner repents!
And this joy is not limited to those in heaven, or to those involved in seeking the lost. It is also available to those who are being saved,
as seen in the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch! - cf. Ac 8:35-39`
 
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