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The Lost Sheep

The Pursuit  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction
Easter is just three weeks away. It is the celebration of the greatest event in all of history. It is the celebration of Jesus Christ rising from the grave to give all who believe in Him victory over sin, death, and hell. I truly believe that it is the greatest time of the year.
As we prepare our hearts for that celebration, I would like to go through a sermon series that we are calling “The Pursuit.” Over the next three weeks, we are going to look at and see that the whole point of the cross and the empty tomb was that God was pursuing those who were separated from Him with a steadfast love.
This morning, we are going to look at a parable that Jesus shared with a group of people that has been known as the “Parable of the Lost Sheep.” It is found in .
Luke 15:1–7 CSB
All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man among you, who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.

The Use of Parables

One of Jesus’ main teaching styles was to use parables. These were stories that took something that people were familiar with and used it to teach God’s truth.

The Scene

We are told in that there were different kinds of people in the audience that day. The tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear what Jesus had to say. These were people that were not welcomed so much by the religious people of the day. They were seen as those who would rightly face God’s judgment.
Along with the tax collectors and sinners were the religious elite, the Pharisees and scribes. These were people that devoted their lives to the study and practice of God’s laws. We are told that the more the tax collectors and sinners come around Jesus, the more this religious group would complain… murmur.
Jesus knew that He had a diverse audience. He wanted to share God’s truth with all that were present. He wanted to share with all present the truth that God is One that relentlessly pursues those who are far from Him. He shared with them three different parables. This morning, we will look at the first of these parables.

The Case of the Sheep

Luke 15:3–4 CSB
So he told them this parable: “What man among you, who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?
As Jesus starts this parable, He talks about a person who owns a hundred sheep and finds that one is missing. Jesus poses a question to the crowd: “Who wouldn’t go looking for this lost sheep?”
We are not told as to why this sheep was lost. The people to whom Jesus was speaking though would know certain truths about sheep. Sheep are not the smartest animals. They have a tendency to get into trouble easily. They do not always pay attention to their surroundings.
This may be why people are compared to sheep many times in the Bible. We have a tendency to get ourselves in some pretty good predicaments, don’t we?
The sheep in this parable was lost because of its own doing. It was not the fault of anyone else. We live in a day and age of blame someone else. No one likes to have to take responsibility for our own decisions and actions. The truth is that most of the trouble that we find ourselves in is a result of our own doing.
The sheep was lost and could do nothing to help himself get out of his situation. Every human being that has ever lived can relate to this. Because of sin in our lives, we find ourselves in a predicament that we cannot get ourselves out of. Just like the sheep in this parable, we need someone to come and help.

The Care of the Shepherd

Luke 15:4–5 CSB
“What man among you, who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders,
Luke 15:
As Jesus continues with this parable, He shares about the good shepherd that goes in search of this lost and helpless sheep. This person is supposed to represent God. Jesus lets us know some key truths about God in these verses.

God recognizes when one is missing.

It is amazing to think that the God of the universe knows when one single person is not where he or she should be. We live in a world that contains about 7.6 billion people. For God to know the full details of each one is amazing.
There are many who live their entire lives wondering if anyone notices them. Even with 7.6 billion people around us, it is easy to feel that we are overlooked and unimportant. Jesus is trying to show us that each and every person on the planet is important and noticed by God. He sees the finest details of each of our lives and is greatly concerned for each one.
While you may think that no one notices when you are out of place, do not be deceived… you are noticed.

God relentlessly searches for us.

Jesus shares the truth that God relentlessly pursues the one that is not where he or she should be. This is not a common search. This is a search that goes until it is found.
How many times have you known a person to lose a pet? They may put up signs all around town. The search may go on for a little while, but soon that person gives up because the search is too hard.
This is not the way God pursues. Jesus says that God goes and searches and does not stop until the lost one is found.

God carries us back to where we need to be.

In , Jesus says that this shepherd finds the lost sheep, places it on his own shoulders, and carries it back to where it is supposed to be.
This is a beautiful picture of what God does in the life of a person that places their faith in Jesus. God searches for them… God finds them… God does not give a lecture to them about how they should not have wandered away; God picks up the sheep and places it on His own shoulders and carries it.
This reflects the helplessness of the sheep and the compassion of the shepherd. The sheep cannot get back to where it needs to be so the shepherd steps in and does it for him.
Ezekiel 34
Ezekiel 34:11–12 CSB
“ ‘For this is what the Lord God says: See, I myself will search for my flock and look for them. As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and total darkness.

The Call to Rejoice

Luke 15:
Luke 15:6–7 CSB
and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.
This point of Jesus’ parable was intended to deal with the complaining that was going on in the crowd. The religious people were murmuring about all these “sinners” coming and being around Jesus.
Jesus shows that God’s heart is for His people to rejoice when a person who has been lost in their sin is brought back into the fold. There was no room for the complaining and murmuring that was going on.
As the shepherd in the parable says, “rejoice with me” to his friends and neighbors, it reminds us that true joy demands fellowship. The joy that God brings into our lives is not to be experienced alone.
Do we grumble or celebrate when we hear the calling of God to draw close to those who do not know Him and share the gospel with them? Do we get excited when we see a sinner turn from their sin and turn to Christ? We will not see that happen if we are not willing to pursue them as God pursued us.

4-Part Harmony of Rejoicing

First, there is the rejoicing of the sheep that was found.
The rejoicing of the sheep that was found
The rejoicing of the shepherd for finding the sheep
The rejoicing of those who hear the good news of the lost being found.of those who hear the good news of the lost being found.
Second, there is the rejoicing of the shepherd for finding the sheep.
The rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents.
Third, there is rejoicing of those who hear the good news of the lost being found.
Do you want to know what gets heaven excited? The Bible says that it is not a well performed service… it is not a big contribution in the offering plate… it is not 99 self-righteous people who keep the rules… what makes heaven celebrate is when a sinner is pursued and rescued by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Do you want to know what gets heaven excited? The Bible says that it is not a well performed service… it is not a big contribution in the offering plate… it is not 99 self-righteous people who keep the rules… what makes heaven celebrate is when a sinner is pursued and rescued by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Conclusion
The God of the Bible is not one who just sits upon His throne in heaven and allows things to just pan out. He is a pursuer of those who sin has separated from Him.
If we have experienced that pursuit and answered the call to return to Him, then we have a responsibility to share in the ministry of pursuing those who are far from Christ.
How we should long to hear every man, woman, boy, and girl sing the lines from that famous hymn, Amazing Grace - “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.”
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