God’s Love Seeks You When You Are Lost (Luke 15:1-10; Romans 5:8)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 23, 2023
Have you ever lost something? Maybe you have lost a piece of jewelry? Maybe, you have lost a piece of clothing. For me, every spring I take my winter clothes and put them in a laundry basket on the top shelf of my closet. Sure enough, every fall when I bring those winter clothes down, I feel like I am missing one of my favorite shirts. But what a joy it is to find that shirt. But you know what is better than that? It is great to find money when I never knew that it was missing. In years past there have been times that I put on a jacket at the end of the summer, and I put my hands in the pocket and find money! Have you ever lost a pet? Not by death by but by them running away. I can think of 3 times when I was a kid that my pets ended up missing. Allow me to share one of those times:
When I was in 6th grade my dad brought a blue tic beagle home from work. My brothers and I ran to the car and asked if we could keep him. We thought my dad found him on the road somewhere. Turns out, someone my dad worked with needed to get rid of him, so we took him. We had a pet rabbit at the time. It is not a good idea to have a rabbit with a beagle! Anyways, this beagle, which we named Sam, had a way of getting out of the house. We would let him in the back yard, which was fenced in, and he would get out. I never saw how he got out, but he did. Eventually we started putting him on a cable. Then, he still found ways to run free by sneaking out the front door when people were coming in. My older brother and I would try to chase him down and sometimes we were successful. Well, one cold Friday in February I got home from school and went looking for Sam. But Sam was nowhere to be found. My mom said that Sam got out that day. My brother and I looked everywhere but we couldn’t find Sam. That night I remember sitting in the living room watching the television. But every 5 minutes I walked to the door to see if Sam had come home. We had another dog named Sandy. Sandy missed Sam too. We could tell because she would walk to the front door too. My mom would say, “You see Sam outside”? And the moment Sandy heard Sam’s name she would look up! But no matter how many times I went to the front door Sam was not there!
Maybe you have had similar experiences.
In the passage we are about to read Jesus talks about how when we are lost God seeks us out. When we are lost God seeks us.
God loves us when we are lost.
We have been talk about God’s love for us. Today my theme is:
God’s Love Seeks You When You Are Lost
- The context: Let’s look at the context of this passage.
Luke 15:1–2 (ESV)
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
- Notice in verse 1 that all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus. Yet, the Pharisees and the Scribes didn’t like this. They talked badly about Jesus for eating with them.
- The Pharisees and the scribes were the religious elite. They kept every bit of the law.
- The tax collectors were not liked by most Jews because they would take money from people and usually take more than they needed to.
- Sinners would refer to someone who didn’t keep the religious law as well as the Pharisees. The Pharisees didn’t only hold to Moses’ law but also traditions that were treated as Scripture. Sinners could also refer to Gentiles.
- The tax collectors and sinners were rejected by the religious elite but notice how they came to Jesus. Yet, the religious people rejected Jesus. The people who knew they were sinners went to Jesus but the people who were supposed to be the religious authority rejected Jesus.
- Jesus loves the outcast. Jesus loves everyone.
So, in verses 3-7 Jesus tells a parable. He tells them an allegorical story.
- Let’s read these verses.
Luke 15:3–7 (ESV)
So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And 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 that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
- The parable is simple but there is still information that we can take from it and apply to us.
- Someone has 100 sheep and loses one. Now I know that you may be thinking, “big deal, he has 100 sheep, he still has 99 other sheep left.” But to shepherds it was a big deal This was their income. One scholar said,
“The shepherd was responsible for each sheep; if one was missing, the shepherd had to pay for it unless he could prove that it was killed by a predator (see Gen. 31:38–39; Ex. 22:10–13; Amos 3:12). This explains why he would leave the flock with the other shepherds, go and search for the missing animal, and then rejoice when he found it. Not to find the lost sheep meant money out of his own pocket, plus the disgrace of being known as a careless shepherd.”
- So, the man in the parable goes to look for the one sheep. He leaves the 99 in the wilderness.
- Then he finds his other sheep and he rejoices. He rejoices so much that he calls his friends and tells them about it.
- Have you ever had this situation? Have you lost something, and then when you found it you were so excited that you had to tell someone?
- The idea is this individual is excited to find that one sheep.
- Jesus brings the parable together, “In the same way, there will be rejoicing in Heaven over a lost person, a sinner, who repents. Notice the sarcasm? Jesus says more rejoicing over one sinner who repents than 99 righteous persons who don’t need to repent. I think that is sarcasm. The Pharisees didn’t think they needed to repent.
- When we are lost, God’s love seeks us out.
- The next parable is about a woman who has lost one silver coin out of 10. Let’s read the next 3 verses.
Luke 15:8–10 (ESV)
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
- This silver coin is probably equal to a day’s wages. But more than that, it is possible that Jesus is referring to a coin that was part of her dowry. The dowry was the only portion of money that a bride was able to keep even if the marriage ended. Another possibility is that Jewish women would wear a head band of ten silver coins as a symbol that they are married. It would be a disaster for one to be missing.
- The Jewish houses were often dark and there would be cracks in the stone floor where the coin could be.
- So, this coin is important to her. She lights a lamp and sweeps hoping to find it. When she does, she, also, calls her friends to rejoice.
- Now Jesus says that there is rejoicing by the Angels of God over one sinner who repents.
- Now, God is not the only one rejoicing but also angels. God’s created beings
- Some more applications:
- God searches for the lost.
- God seeks us out.
- We were all lost at one time and some of us may still be lost.
- Remember the story of Adam and Eve?
- Remember how they hid after they sinned? Yet, God searched for them. God cares about the lost. God seeks out the lost.
- There is another parable in Luke 15:11-32 and it is about the lost son, it is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We won’t talk about that parable today except to see these are 3 back-to-back parables that Jesus tells to show that His love seeks us when we are lost.
Well, remember my dog Sam that was lost? Sam did come home eventually. But he didn’t come home on his own. Somehow, we found out that someone had taken him in. We picked him up and brought him home. We were so excited that Sam was safe and at home. But you know, during that whole time we weren’t rejoicing that our other dog, Sandy, was at home. Of course, we cared about her. But we knew that she was home and safe. We didn’t know where Sam was.
In these two parables Jesus is saying that God cares about every lost person. Even though He has so many righteous people, He still cares about the lost. More than that, He seeks out the lost. He initiates the salvation of the lost. God looks for us. God looked for us. And there is a celebration in Heaven when the lost are found.
But there is a problem. I think too often Christians do not look for the lost. Too often Christians do not celebrate when a lost person comes to church.
Dr. Kalas was the president of Asbury Theological Seminary. He told a story of a Sunday school teacher that he had when he was a kid. This was back in the 1930’s. Dr. Kalas said that sometimes the Sunday school teacher would get off topic and share a story. One day he shared the story of how he came to know Christ. The Sunday school teacher said that he was a drunk [Dr. Kalas said that is what they called it back then]. This man was a drunk and he was going to throw himself in the river. But there was a church service going on. So, he ended up at church. That night, when he was going to commit suicide, he ended up giving his life to Christ. He was lost but he was found by God. He was going to literally kill himself but instead he died to the world and became alive “in Christ” for the first time. Instead of dying he was alive. Then, years later he taught Sunday school to a student who would someday become a pastor and Seminary professor and president.
God’s love seeks us when we are lost.