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The Lost Sheep Found


   PART V: THE LOST FOUND
 
           CHAPTER 21

                                   Introduction
 

             David  Coote,  President of International Bible College,
         San Antonio, gives these three outlines  of  the  Lost  Found
         trilogy:
 
                                THE LOST SILVER
                                   Was Lost
                           Did Not Know It Was Lost
                           Did Not Know the Way Back
 
                                THE LOST SHEEP
                                   Was Lost
                               Knew It Was Lost
                           Did Not Know the Way Back
 
                                 THE LOST SON
                                   Was Lost
                               Knew He Was Lost
                               Knew the Way Back
 
           There is an obvious progression of the self-consciousness  of
         being lost and how to return to God  in  the  three parables.
         The Holy Spirit takes us  through  these  three stages on our
         journey to Christ.

              The Pharisees and the  scribes  (teachers  of  the  Law)
         criticized  Jesus  for  associating  with  tax collectors and
         "sinners"  (Luke 15:1-2).   These  strict  religious  leaders
         looked forward to the destruction of sinners.  Their attitude
         of hate  was  wrong.  [William  Barclay,  DAILY  BIBLE  STUDY
         SERIES, LUKE (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), pp. 206
         ff.].  This criticism  of  Jesus  precipitated  Jesus'  three
         parables of finding the lost.  (Trench, NOTES ON THE PARABLES
         OF OUR LORD, p. 133).

            The Lost Sheep Found is recorded in Matthew 18:12-14 and
         Luke 15:3-7.
 
 

The Story
                          "What do you think?  if a man owns a
                   hundred  sheep,  and  one of them wanders
                   away, will he not leave  the  ninety-nine
                   on  the  hills and go to look for the one
                   that wandered off?  And if he finds it, I
                   tell  you  the truth, he is happier about
                   that one sheep than about the ninety-nine
                   that did not wander off.  In the same way
                   your Father in heaven is not willing that
                   any  of these little ones should be lost.
                   (Matthew  18:12-14,   New   International
                   Version).

                       Then Jesus told them this parable:
                   "Suppose one of you had a  hundred  sheep
                   and loses one of them.  Does he not 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  neighbors
                   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
                   persons who do not need to repent.  (Luke
                   15:3-7, New International Version).
 

            Matthew's account is a little  different  since  it  was
         given  on  a different occasion.  Jesus' disciples asked him,
         "Who is the greatest in  the  kingdom  of  heaven?"  (Matthew
         18:1,  New  International  Version).    Jesus,  sensing their
         pride, used a little child as an object lesson to teach  them
         humility.   He then warns others not to offend a new convert.
         Next,  he  mentions  that   their guardian angels have direct
         communication with the Father--another warning not to cause a
         young  convert  to  stumble.  Jesus then tells the parable of
         the Lost Sheep Found.

              Luke's account was given  when  the  Pharisees  and  the
         teachers  of the Law criticized Jesus for fellowshipping with
         tax collectors and "sinners."  Earle  comments  on  the  word
         "sinners":
 
                 "Sinner" (vv. 1-2) does not  necessarily  mean
              wicked  men.    The Pharisees applied this label to
              any who  were  careless  about  observing  all  the
              meticulous  and  multitudinous  regulations  of the
              "traditions of the  elders"  concerning  ceremonial
              cleanness.    Actually it was almost impossible for
              the common working man to keep all these rules.  So
              he  was  considered  unclean, a "sinner." [Ralph G.
              Turnbull, gen. ed., PROCLAIMING THE  NEW  TESTAMENT
              (Grand  Rapids:  Baker  Book   House,  1961),   THE
              GOSPEL OF  LUKE, by Ralph  Earle,  ThD, p. 68].

                   Jesus then presents the parable:  

                "Suppose you have a hundred sheep and one gets
              lost.  Because  you are concerned about the  safety
              of the lost sheep, you will leave the flock, search
              for the sheep until you find it, and carry it  back
              to  safety.    You  will  share  your joy with your
              friends and neighbors.  Likewise, my Father and his
              heavenly host will rejoice more over one sinner who
              repents than over  ninety-nine  believers  who  are
              right with him." (Paraphrased).
 

                                          
 

                             The Interpretation
 

             The Jews were a shepherd people who understood the story
         well.   Jesus told this parable to show how  the  Father feels
         about those who have strayed from him spiritually.  The story
         evoked the compassion that a shepherd people would have for a
         straying sheep.  Just as a shepherd loves his  sheep  and has
         an  emotional  attachment  to  them,  so  our Heavenly Father
         has an infinitely greater love for the sinner.
              Clarke offers these firsthand comments:

                No  creature  strays more easily than a sheep; none
              is more heedless; and none so incapable of  finding
              its  way  back to the flock, when once gone astray.
              It will bleat for the flock, and still run on in an
              opposite direction to the place where the flock is;
              this I have often noticed.   No  creature  is  more
              defenseless  than  a  sheep, and more exposed to be
              devoured by dogs and wild beasts.  Even  the  fowls
              of  the  air  seek  its  destruction.  I have known
              ravens often attempt to destroy  lambs  by  picking
              out their eyes, in which, when they have succeeded,
              as the creature does not see whither it  is  going,
              it  soon  falls  an  easy  prey  to  its destroyer.
              (Clarke, COMMENTARY ON THE HOLY BIBLE, p. 878).

              The oriental (Jewish) shepherd loves his  sheep  to  the
         extent   that   he  is  willing  to  risk  his  own  life  in
         beast-infested mountains at night to  seek  a  single  sheep.
         (Earle,  BEACON  BIBLE  COMMENTARY, LUKE, p. 171).  Note that
         Jesus emphasized the shepherd's concern in that  he  searched
         for  [HIS  OWN]  lost  sheep UNTIL he found it.  The shepherd
         does not PUNISH the sheep for straying, or "harshly DRIVE  it
         back into the fold" but COMFORTS the sheep by physical touch.
         He places his sheep on his  own  shoulders  and  carries  the
         sheep  back  home.  This is a beautiful story of the goodness
         and saving grace of our Lord.  (Trench, NOTES ON THE PARABLES
         OF OUR LORD, p. 135).

              Our Heavenly Father and his heavenly host rejoice when a
         sinner has been saved!

                     For  God  did  not  send his son into the
                   world to condemn the world, but  to  save
                   the  world  through  him. (John 3:17, New
                   International Version).


                            Central Truth

                       GOD LOVES THE SINNER.
 

                             Conclusion
 
 

          We need to be very careful not to  become  a  stumbling
         stone for the lost.  Rather, we need  to  become  a  stepping
         stone for the lost to reach Christ.

          We do this by loving the  lost  as  Christ  does.    Our
         Heavenly  Father loves the lost so much that he gave his most
         valuable treasure--his Son--to die for them.  Jesus loves the
         lost so much that he willingly died for them.   If we partake
         of the love nature of God, how can we hate?   And  weren't  we
         all lost sinners at one time?  (And the  best of us still miss the mark
         sometimes).  END.