The Gospel Of Luke

Luke 15:3-10 (CEV)

Then Jesus told them this story:

If any of you has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Won’t you leave the ninety-nine in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it? And when you find it, you will be so glad that you will put it on your shoulder and carry it home. Then you will call in your friends and neighbours and say, “Let’s celebrate! I’ve found my lost sheep.”

Jesus said, “In the same way there is more happiness in heaven because of one sinner who turns to God than over ninety-nine good people who don’t need to.”

Jesus told the people another story:

What will a woman do if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them? Won’t she light a lamp, sweep the floor, and look carefully until she finds it? Then she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, “Let’s celebrate! I’ve found the coin I lost.”

10 Jesus said, “In the same way God’s angels are happy when even one person turns to him.”

Lost and Found … Part 1

Have you ever been lost?

When I was a counsellor at a summer camp (back in the day) we had a large and beautiful waterfront, and a couple hundred campers to look after, and so (like most camps) we had a buddy system down at the waterfront and camper checks throughout the day. And if they ever called your buddy number, or did a cabin count and a camper was missing, there was an air raid siren that would go off.

If you heard that siren, everyone knew they had a job.

The campers’ job was to run to the flagpole to be counted – just in case the missing camper had simply forgotten to tell someone they were going to the bathroom or the nurses’ cabin.

Some of the counsellors had the job of coming and doing the counting.

Others ran off into the woods, checking around and under cabins, in bathrooms, along trails and in the outbuildings.

And the rest went down to the waterfront where they each dove into the water at pre-assigned points or linked arms and started walking slowly and deliberately through the water hoping against hope that they would find the missing camper before it was too late.

I can still feel my heart thudding in my chest thinking about the sound of that siren. I can still feel my hands shaking and my legs giving way under me at the relief when we found the missing camper.

There was an urgency to finding that lost child that has only a few parallels in life.

But I think that we might mostly miss this emotional picture Jesus is driving at when he talks about a lost sheep.

I don’t know much about sheep, but you can learn about anything on the Internet, and it turns out that if a sheep ends up tipped over onto their back, they can die. They can’t turn themselves over and they can’t run away, so they are vulnerable to attack by other animals. But more than that, because of the way their stomachs are set up, the grass that they eat basically ferments, causing gas to build up in their stomachs. If they’re not standing up, then the gas can’t release, and so it builds up and puts pressure on the sheep’s lungs until it makes it impossible for them to breathe.

So time is of the essence in finding this lost sheep – which Jesus’ original listeners would have known, even if we didn’t.

Likewise this coin that the woman’s lost is probably part of her dowry. In the midst of political unrest and cultural upheaval, this coin might be one-tenth of all she has to call her own. And in a world of dirt floors, where things can get buried to the point where they are never found again, time is of the essence here.

These are the first two (of three) stories that Luke puts back to back about being lost and being found. These are stories about us as humans, but they’re also stories about the character of God.

You see, most of us wonder sometimes about who God is. We’ve most of us had people in our lives who want to tell us about who God is.

But it’s stories like this from Jesus – who actually knows God because he comes from God and is God – that allow us to build up a picture of who God actually is.

These stories tell us about a God who takes the initiative.

  • A God who values,
  • A God who pursues.
  • A God who engages with us instead of being distant.
  • A God who shows up.
  • A God who is personal without being easily offended.
  • A God who doesn’t rank us or respond to some of us faster or better than others.

This God who Jesus tells us about is a God whose love is limitless.

It’s the kind of love that throws on the air raid siren, stops whatever else is going on and does whatever it needs to do to find the sheep or camper or coin or person that’s gone missing.

Journal Questions:

  1. Is this the view of God that you have?
  2. If not, how does your view differ?
  3. What contributed to that view of God?
  4. What would change if this was your view instead?
  5. It’s one thing to believe something cognitively, but James tells us that if our belief doesn’t affect our actions that it’s pretty much useless. So if this is your view, how are you living into it?
  6. How is it changing the way in which you engage with the world in which you live?
  7. How is it changing your relationship with the things around you that scare you?
  8. What would change if you lived into this view of God?