by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Luke 15:1-7
I. When people can’t fault a person, they will sometimes seek to find fault in the way someone does things.
A. This is how the Pharisees and Scribes sought to degrade Jesus’ reputation.
B. It wasn’t something they would do. In fact, they implied it there was something wrong with Jesus because of the people he was with.
C. They didn’t even address their complaint to Jesus. They spoke to others.
1. Their goal was to undermine Jesus’ reputation
2. They sought to cause people to doubt Jesus’ character
II. The parable of the lost sheep was Jesus’ response to the rumors being spread about him
A. He asked how many of them would leave their flock of ninety-nine safe sheep to search for just one which was missing. Would they not rejoice when it was found, and make a greater fuss over the one than the ninety-nine that never left?
B. Jesus’ parable is often applied to fallen Christians, but notice that the complaint was against Jesus teaching among sinners.
1. What is stated is true about anyone caught up in sin, including fallen Christians.
2. But it’s primary application tells us about teaching the lost.
III. Lesson about saving the lost
A. You have to admit that there are lost sheep
1. It is one of the biggest failings of our time.
a. People avoid saying others are in sin for fear of driving them off.
b. “Oh, you’re alright just the way you are!”
c. But a sheep in wilderness, remains in the wilderness if it is not brought out.
2. Ancient Israel was scattered by their own shepherds - Jeremiah 50:6
3. God sent His Son because of this - Isaiah 53:6
4. We were once like this as well - I Peter 2:25
B. You have to leave the safety of the flock to find the lost sheep
1. You can’t save people from sin by attending church services.
2. Sure, some lost sheep will stray into services, but most will require a diligent search on your part.
a. “Well, he’s not at the neighbors. I don’t see him walking down the road. Oh well, I did look, but I can’t find him.”
b. The shepherd had to enter the wilderness.
3. The command of Jesus was to go and make disciples - Matthew 28:19-20
4. Go and preach to everyone - Mark 16:15-16
5. The early Christians accomplished this - Colossians 1:23; Romans 10:18
C. The lost sheep might be too weak to return on his own. You might have to carry him for a while.
1. A lost sheep doesn’t eat well. It can’t rest well. It’s coat will be matted and filled with dirt.
2. The strong need to bear up the weak - Romans 15:1-3
3. Uphold the weak - I Thessalonians 5:14
4. When a lost soul is brought into the church, he isn’t going to be just like the rest of the sheep – not for a while.
a. There are things to learn.
b. Paul took such in consideration when teaching - I Corinthians 3:1-3
5. How many of us are willing to work with a person with all his flaws to lead him to maturity?
a. Too often the weak are rejected as unable to fit in
b. Or they are pushed out because they aren’t maturing at the pace we demand
6. But even the weak are necessary - I Corinthians 12:18-26
D. In a wilderness you see all sorts of critters, but only find one lost sheep
1. Jesus told his parable while surrounded by many sinners, but he told us he was looking for that one lost sheep.
2. Too often we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the task at hand.
a. Look at all the lost people in our community!
3. Too often we allow ourselves to be defeated because so many don’t respond
4. What we should be doing is looking for that one lost sheep.
a. We shouldn’t waste time trying to convince the mountain goat that he really should be a sheep.
b. We shouldn’t be inviting in the wolves just because our numbers would be greater.
5. Time is too short to waste. As Jesus told the seventy, deliver the message and keep going - Luke 10:8-11
E. Welcome the lost sheep into the fold
1. The past doesn’t matter. What is important is that other person is on his way to heaven.
2. People rejoiced to hear others coming to Christ - Acts 15:3
3. Barnabas encouraged the new converts - Acts 11:23
4. What greater joy can there be? - I Thessalonians 2:19; 3:7-9
IV. Jesus taught the parable because the Pharisees and Scribes only wanted those like themselves into their numbers.
A. They had forgotten that people can and do change.
B. They only want people who already were perfect.
C. They had forgotten that people need to grow and need encouragement in their growth
V. Brethren if the only ones we accept in our number are those who have conquered sin, our numbers will quickly diminish.
A. This is a place for sinners to recover.
B. Some treat the church as a hospital that only takes in the healthy.
C. We ought not accept people who want to stay in their sins, but when a person is weak and wants help overcoming their sins, they deserve all the love we can give them.