The Lost and The Found
Read Luke 15:1-7 (ESV)
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “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? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 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.” 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.”
What do you think Jesus means by “righteous person who need no repentance”? Is there anyone who really doesn’t need to repent?
There tends to be two different kinds of people in the world when it comes to being lost—those who wander and those who stop to ask for directions. When I was younger, if I got lost, I didn’t like to ask for directions. I didn’t want to admit that I needed help. But the older I get, the quicker I am to admit when I’ve lost my way. I’m learning what is truly valuable in life. And it isn’t my pride. There are a lot of people wandering through the world wasting precious time.
In today’s verses, the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling about Jesus because He hung around “sinners.” But Jesus tells them what is truly valuable in the kingdom of God. And it isn’t pride, it’s people. It is lost souls being found. In fact, Jesus said that all of heaven rejoices when just one soul who was lost is found.
These lost and wandering souls are so precious to Jesus that He pursues them. That is why Jesus hung out with “tax collectors and sinners”. He came to find the lost so He went out among the lost. Jesus once again referred to Himself as a shepherd. A good shepherd goes after a sheep that is missing and rejoices when it is found.
When I take my kids into a big place like an arena or the zoo, I tell them that if they get lost, stay put. I will come find them! They will be much easier to find if they aren’t wandering around. And when I find my child that was missing, it is hard to explain how much joy and relief washes over me. My kids are precious to me and losing just one of them would break my heart!
But in order for my kids to stay put, they have to know and accept the fact that they are lost. They have to admit that they need help and want to be found. This is what Jesus was saying when He referred to the “ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Everyone needs repentance! But Jesus knew that only a precious few ever lay aside their pride and admit it.
Those of us who admit that we are lost and repent are found by Jesus. He puts us on His shoulders and carries us home while heaven erupts with joy and thanksgiving. But the self-righteous, like the Pharisees and scribes, are often too prideful to repent. They simply won't concede that they don’t know the way to get to God. They think that all of their good works and legalism will get them into heaven so they wander around in the dark—utterly lost.
Friend, if you are lost and wandering, stop. Stay put. Repent. Jesus will find you. And when He does, He will carry you all the way home. Don’t waste any more precious time wandering. You are valuable and all of heaven is longing for you to be found.
Jesus, thank You for pursuing me. I confess that I often do not want to admit when I am lost and wrong. But I need You, Lord. I can’t save myself and I can’t find my way to You without Your help. Thank You for putting me on Your shoulders and taking me Home. Amen.