In our text this morning, we come to two parables of Jesus: the parable of the Lost Sheep and the parable of the Lost Coin. These two parables are practical stories that communicate great spiritual truth. While the two parables are different, they both vividly illustrate the truth of John 3:16: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This morning we shall consider the three main points of the parables: 1) something is lost, 2) there is a search for the lost, 3) joy when the lost is found; and discuss the practical implications for God’s children.
Something is Lost
In the first parable a sheep is lost and in the second parable a coin is lost. Do not dwell on how they were lost; that is not important to the parable. What is important is that the owner knows they are lost. This is important because it reveals that the lost items are missed because they are considered valuable and precious by their owner.
The care and concern of the woman and the shepherd illustrate God’s care and concern for His children. The shepherd knows his sheep and God knows His. The woman knows how many silver coins belong to her and we rejoice that our Heavenly Father “knows those who are his” (2 Tim 2:19). These parables show us that our Heavenly Father knows us and thus is very concerned about our welfare.
A Search for the Lost
The first parable tells us that the shepherd leaves “the ninety-nine in the open country, and [goes] after the one that is lost, until he finds it” (4). The second parable tells us the woman who lost the coin “lights a lamp and sweeps the house and seeks diligently until she finds it” (8). Here we see the love for and the value of the lost put into action as the owners actively seek the lost. This is the opposite of a “Little Bo-Peep” mentality that will simply “leave them alone, and they’ll come home”. The truth is that sinners will not come on their own, there must be a “going” (Rom 10:14). The intentional search for the lost serves as a great illustration of God’s pursuit of sinners. Just as the shepherd’s search was not easy and the woman’s search was diligent, so too is God’s pursuit of sinful man. God’s care and diligence is demonstrated to us in the cross of Jesus Christ.
I like the words of the old hymn: “Pass me not, O gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry; While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.” Jesus is the shepherd who is not content with the ninety-nine being safe, but concerned that the one is lost. Jesus pursues and will “go after the one that is lost, until He finds it” (4). Jesus is the One who will “sweep the house and seek diligently until [He] finds it” (8). It is God who “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8) because “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Peter wrote about this great and costly search for the lost when he wrote: “you were ransomed…not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Joy for the Lost Being Found
In both parables we read that when the lost is found there is great rejoicing. Jesus said that when the man found his lost sheep, “he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing” (5). Not only that, “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’” (6). The woman who found her lost coin, “calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost’” (9). Both the shepherd and the woman rejoice in finding that which was lost and they wish others to share in their joy. They turn to their friends and say, “Rejoice with me!” The love that compels them to care for what they have, compels them to seek what is lost, and compels them to rejoice when they are found.
The joy that is communicated in the parable illustrates the great joy God has when a lost sinner is found. We read that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (7) and “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (10). All of heaven rejoices when a person commits their life to Jesus Christ and enters the kingdom of heaven. This mission is what Jesus is committed to and this mission is what Jesus calls His children into.
God’s Lost & Found
These two parables are practical stories that communicate great spiritual truth. While the two parables are different, they both vividly illustrate the truth of John 3:16. Everyone who reads this passage has a decision to make. For those who are non-Christians, confession of sin and faith in the Savior needs to take root in their heart and transform them into a disciple of Jesus Christ. For those who are Christians, there needs to be a daily awareness of the gospel in our lives. This daily remembrance of our need for a Savior keeps us dependant on and humble before our Savior. It also reminds us that we must be committed to His mission to seek the lost. We must also remember that if we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ; we will rejoice in what He rejoices in. It is sad that “the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’” (2). Pride blinded their hearts as they looked down on the “sinners”. When Jesus said there is “more joy over the one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine who need no repentance”, He was rebuking the prideful religious leaders for thinking they do not need repentance. Christians, like Paul, know that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim 1:15). Do we look down on the sinners around us or do we seek the sinners as lost needing to be found?