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God Searches Out the Lost

Luke 15:3-7
Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent. (NIVUK)

Sheep are a good metaphor for people.  They like to be with others, willing to follow a dominant leader but also like to make sure they can get away on their own.  They are easily frightened and hate going through narrow gaps.  They like going up but are frightened to go down.  Therefore, when they are out on the hillside, they can easily wander off, clamber up a steep bank, and not be able to get down again.  At that point, they are lost; away from the safety of the shepherd they are vulnerable to predators, and unable to take any initiative to help themselves.  

Sheep were common in Israel.  They provided meat, milk and wool.  They were valuable and needed to be looked after, because they could not look after themselves.  King David, who had been a shepherd wrote in Psalm 23:1-6 that he was still as vulnerable as a sheep and still needed the Lord to lead and provide, protect and heal him.  Jesus said that He is the Good Shepherd who will stand between His sheep and every evil to the point of sacrificing Himself for them (John 10:11-17).  

Jesus used sheep as an illustration of how human beings get spiritually lost.  Pride, independency, fear and an inability to find our way back to Father God on our own - means that we have no hope unless somebody comes to find us.  The only person who can and will come is Jesus (Isaiah 53:6).  His rescue is personal to each of us.  He does not process people like herds of sheep but is concerned for every individual.  Even if ninety-nine are safe, He will search for the one who is lost.  Instead of being angry with the wanderer, He is only too glad that He can carry back home those who are weary and damaged.  Joy in heaven is not only a product of the greatness of God but also His sacrificial goodness in searching out those who are lost.  

Many of our friends and colleagues may have abandoned hope of ever finding their way to God.  Foolish actions and careless words so easily foment into an inescapable lonely trap.  They use the pressure of work and family responsibilities as a way of numbing their consciences, but in the quieter moments they know they are lost.  It is the same for the successful person in business or professional life.  Without Shepherd Jesus close by, both failure and success will lead people to a hopeless place, but as they call to Him, He will come to bring them safely home (Ezekiel 34:11-16).  This message of God's love through Jesus is the good news (gospel) the church has got for the world (John 3:16).  If you do not know it’s reality, please watch www.crosscheck.org.uk  If you do know it, pass it on.

Dear Lord. Thank You for Your love which reaches out to weak, wandering sinners like me and my friends. I am amazed by Your desire to search for each individual; and I would like You to motivate me to work with You today - bringing the news that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost. Please forgive me for being indifferent to the searching love of Jesus for the lost. Please strengthen me to join with Him in that task and give me a fresh desire to be Your witness to a world that is lost. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams