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The Good Shepherd and the Lost Sheep

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Missions Ephasis  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:48
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God cares about lost people—He seeks and saves—so the church should care and love the lost and point them to Christ!
Introduction
The older I get the more I ask myself the question: “Am I the person God wants me to be and am I possessing the attitude God wants me to have and am I doing the things God wants me to do?”
The more I read and study God’s Word, the more I realize that my priorities are not always in line with God’s priorities—especially when I look at what Jesus did and taught.
When you think of Jesus—what comes to mind? Nice, kind, gentle? But, in Luke 14, Jesus makes some very startling, in-your-face statements about the cost of following Him.
Luke 14:26 ESV
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:27 ESV
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:33 ESV
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:34–35 ESV
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
It doesn’t sound so nice and gentle?
But, something happens here that stops me in my tracks.
Luke 15:1–2 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.”
Who is drawing near toward Jesus? The religious leaders? No! It’s the tax collectors and sinners.
Tax Collectors and Sinners
The tax collectors were not highly regarded, for they helped the hated Romans in their administration of conquered territory and enriched themselves at the expense of their fellow-countrymen.
They were ostracized by many and regarded as outcasts by the religious.
The sinners were the immoral or those who followed occupations that the religious regarded as incompatible with the Law.
It was the tax collectors and sinners that were attracted to what Jesus said—like giving up everything to follow Christ!
But, what about the religious leaders?
Pharisees and Scribes
The Pharisees were an important religious and political party during the ministry of Jesus—and were often opposed to what Jesus did and said.
The Scribes were recognized experts in Jewish law—including traditions and regulations. They were also antagonistic toward Jesus’ ministry.
Their reaction to Jesus conversing with these “tax collectors” and “sinners” was nothing short of distain.
The conflict between Jesus and the Religious Leaders
Most religious leaders of Jesus’ day held to a strict rule of separation from anyone unlike themselves.
One rule observed was: “One must not associate with an ungodly man.” This was taken so seriously that the rabbis would not associate with such a person even to teach him the Law.
Eating with these people (sinners) was regarded as worse than mere association: it implied welcome and recognition.
Because Jesus was meeting with the “ungodly” the Pharisees and scribes had nothing but contempt for Jesus.
First Challenge

We can be susceptible of worshiping rules and tradition rather than worshiping God.

The religious leaders prided themselves of their impressive “standing” with God—however, they rejected God-in-the-flesh (Jesus)!
We too can be so focused on our programs, or procedures, or positions, or our plans—and totally miss God in the process!
And, if we are not careful, we can grow contemptuous of God and His redemptive work to save sinners.
The solution to this temptation is to embrace humility and remain fully grounded in God’s Word.
Jesus Responds
Jesus confronts this religious spirit with a story called a parable. A parable is a short story illustrating an important spiritual truth. About 35% of Jesus’ words in the Gospels comprise these parables.
Luke 15:3–6 ESV
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.’

God is a seeking God—who takes the initiative to seek and save the lost.

The Good Shepherd is one who keeps looking for the lost sheep until he finds it.
Jesus appeals to custom. “Religious leaders! You know that even a shepherd of sheep looks for the lost. God does the same! And, so should you!”
And to emphasize this point further, Jesus underscores how the shepherd is tender to the newly found sheep—and celebrates their recovery.
For the Pharisee and scribe—Jesus boxed them into a corner—and revealed the true nature of their heart. Not only did they think themselves better than the tax collector and the sinner—they even thought themselves better than God.
Jesus concluded his little story with this point:
Luke 15:7 ESV
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.

All of us are sinners needing a Savior

This is a reality we sometimes fail to remember. Everyone of this room were lost or are lost.
The truth is all need to repent.
The Apostle Paul, an early church leader, said it this way:
Romans 3:23 ESV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
It is any easy thing to think one is better than others. Without Christ, we are all lost in our sin. Why should I think that I am better, when it is Jesus and His righteousness that I am considered good. I am no better than anyone else.
The main point
What Jesus does here is point the church in the right direction—away from its focus on how great we are to how great God is. And, if God cares about this lost, so should we.
Worship Team
This is why we must be a church focused on reaching people with the good news of God’s salvation.
This is why we support missionaries that serve around the world reaching the lost.
This is why we pray, why we give, and why we go—and seek the lost for the glory of God.
Altar Call
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