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Parables Of The Master

Luke 15:1-10

The Lost Sheep And Lost Coin

The lost (but found) sheep and the lost (but found) coin teach us to value God’s attitude.

As the scene of the text (vv. 1-3) opens, a motley group of non-church-goers “drew near to Jesus to hear Him.” Right from the beginning we note that nothing characterizes the essence of true religion more than this: get as close as you can to Jesus to absorb what He has to give, for He is the channel of God’s love to lost mankind.

Outside that circle stood the regular church-goers, who got their feathers ruffled. What irritated them? For one thing, it was the attitude of Jesus, who did not seem embarrassed that He attracted such rabble to His Bible class. Even more aggravating was their perception that Jesus, a junior rabbi from Nazareth, did not deserve His popularity.

Jesus could have defended His self-image; He could have condemned the grumpy bystanders, but He was not interested in such maneuvers, for He was enjoying this golden opportunity to salvage souls from Satan’s junk-yard.

But now (v. 3) there intruded the need for a second Bible class–to give to those self-righteous folks an insight into God’s attitude and to open their hearts to understand His mission among us. How about a duet of down-to-earth stories with human interest to illustrate the drama of God’s loving search-and-rescue mission?

Both parables share a simple story line: in each a single verse presents a loss, the loss regained, and the owner/finder rejoicing. No need for filler such as the obstacles that had to be overcome in searching for the lost sheep/coin or the investment of time and energy spent. But then it takes three verses to portray the outcome and to savor the heavenly truth! The shepherd, thrilled, shoulders his easy burden with no complaint; he is overcome with delight that a tragedy has been averted. He is so open-hearted about the rescue that he treats friends and neighbors to a celebration–which none apparently considers too extravagant. What a wonderful attitude!

“Likewise” (v. 7) presents the point of the parable–the heavenly truth behind the mundane. The reason Jesus was comfortable while consorting with “the low-life” was that He sought to seek and to save that which was lost. Jesus was gladly doing for souls what a shepherd (pastor) does for his sheep. [We note that this parable is not geared to teach us anything about “the ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Jesus gave them their due at other confrontations–as in Matthew 23.]

The home-maker (vv. 8-10) could have a similar problem. If a coin gets misplaced, no distraction can divert her from the search&recovery mission–even though no life hangs in the balance. Jesus presented the same emotional overload and the same sharing of her success.

So much for story time.

Likewise” (v. 10) points to the heavenly reality behind the illustration. God turns the house upside down for the lost soul and doesn’t quit until He finds it; then it’s celebration time in heaven as He calls in the holy angels to share His good feeling. What a wonderful attitude!!

It is no mystery to us that God searches for and finds and rescues and recovers and brings home the sinner who repents. [We note that repentance is a key concept here.] We also know that Satan intends to prevent the sinner from recognizing his danger; the sinner doesn’t realize that God’s ambulance run is a search&rescue mission for him.

So when Satan hands us those shabby excuses (“I’m not a pastor . . . It’s none of my business . . . live and let live,” etc.) for our not joining God’s search&rescue mission, we ought to picture in our minds the scene in hell: there shall be more joy in hell over one sinner who does not repent, than over ninety-nine who are still OK with God. There is joy in the presence of the angels of Satan over one sinner who does not get rescued and carried home by Jesus.

We have the feeling that Jesus enjoyed His Bible classes; He was thrilled to show God’s loving concern for the lost souls.

May we be partakers of the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, so that even as we appreciate Jesus for ourselves, we share the saving goodness of God with other lost souls, so that the contemplation of His goodness brings them to repent and be saved (Rom. 2:4).

Lord, have mercy.

–Paul Koch