The Value of Lost People:
There is a series of stories that Jesus told in Luke Chapter Fifteen that help us to understand God’s heart for lost people. For too long in the church there has been a ‘holier than thou’ attitude that would keep the sinner at arm’s length. “Lock the doors and keep them out. This church is for us four and no more! We don’t want new people getting saved off of the streets with their tattoos and their blue hair and their mohawks and their rock music. They’ll mess up the church!” Good! I think Jesus would be okay with the church getting a little messy, amen?
Here is the background to Jesus’ stories: “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such despicable people — even eating with them!” (Luke 15:1-2, NLT). When Jesus taught, prostitutes, tax collectors, (alcoholics, druggies and porn addicts) would come and listen to Him. There was something about Jesus that lost, sinful people were drawn to Him. He treated them as His friends. In fact, He got a reputation as the Friend of Sinners. So sinners would hang around with Jesus, and the religious leaders got mad at Jesus for this.
“So Jesus used this illustration: If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:3-7, NLT).
I love this story because it paints for us a beautiful picture of the heart of Jesus. That’s what it’s all about – knowing Jesus better. Jesus is like a good shepherd who, when he discovers that there’s a lost sheep, he doesn’t just sit in the sheep-fold, content with the 99 good sheep. He says, “No, there’s still one out there who’s lost, hurting and broken, and maybe he’s fallen and he can’t get up, so I must go find the one.” When he finds the lost little lamb, he lovingly carries it home on his shoulders. This is Jesus, the gentle, Good Shepherd. And when He gets home, He throws a big party. “Hey guys, look who I brought home. He was lost, but now he’s found!” And every time one sinner is saved, there is a joyful celebration in Heaven.
Have you met Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? Have you experienced Him as the Good Shepherd? If you’re lost, hurting or broken, and life doesn’t make sense for you; if you are confused and looking for answers, come to Jesus. He’s already looking for you. Open your heart to receive Jesus and experience the joy that only comes from knowing Him.
When Jesus taught people, He would usually tell them one story, and if they didn’t understand it, He would explain the meaning of the story to them. But on this one occasion, Jesus was so passionate about this topic that He felt like He needed to tell the people not one, not two, but three stories: The story of the lost sheep, the story of the lost coin, and the story of the lost son. I think He was trying to get something across to the people! Here’s the second story:
“Or suppose a woman has ten valuable silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and look in every corner of the house and sweep every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has found her lost coin. In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:8-10, NLT).
We might wonder why this woman spent so much time and energy trying to find her lost silver coin. It was valuable to the woman, so she looked everywhere for it, and she didn’t stop until she found it. And when she found it, she got excited. Jesus explains that this is the kind of joy there is in Heaven over one sinner who repents.
The lady in this story represents us as Christians. Let’s learn a lesson from her story. First of all, when she lit the lamp, it was more than just turning on a light switch. In the first century in Israel, they didn’t have electricity. They had lamps that were lit by oil, and oil was a very costly commodity. For her to take the time to use this valuable resource to light the lamp and look for the coin shows us that sometimes when it comes to reaching lost souls, it might take an investment of our resources to help them find the Lord. She swept every nook and cranny in the house. Not only did it cost her resources, but it cost her time. She looked everywhere and didn’t stop until she found it. Finally, she looked carefully in every corner of her house, and when looking for the lost, we need to be thorough. Light the lamp, sweep the house, and look carefully.
Why should we do this? The reason to invest the time and resources in reaching people is because they are valuable. People matter to God. Evangelism, witnessing, whatever you want to call it is as simple as this – God loves people, they matter to Him, they are valuable to Him. If people matter to God, then people should matter to us, too. To be a Christian means to be like Christ. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and therefore, we should seek and save the lost too.
Pastor Chris Jordan