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LOST AND FOUND!

(Luke 15:1-10)
February 7, 2016
Read Lu 15:1-10 Luke 15 is one of the most wonderful chapters in the
Bible. It consists of three parables that give us amazing insight into the heart
of God. The theme of the chapter is illustrated by this story. Pres Thos
Jefferson was riding with friends one day when they came to a swollen river
that had washed out the bridge. A man contemplating the situation allowed
Jeffersons companions to cross. But as Jeff approached, he asked for help. At
great risk to himself, Jefferson got the man across. One of the companions
asked, Did you know that was President Jefferson who helped you across?
The man replied, No, I didnt know that. All I know is when I looked into
your face I saw No and when I looked into his face I saw Yes. Similarly
these parables teach when it comes to helping sinners who are faced with a
stream that they cannot cross on their own, the face of the Pharisees said,
No. But thankfully the face of a gracious God always says, Yes.
This account opens with tax collectors and sinners crowding around Jesus.
The outcasts of society. And there is that wonderful phrase in v. 2: This man
receives sinners and eats with them. Of course He did. Thats why He came
-- to seek and to save that which was lost. But the scribes and Pharisees
were indignant. This was company they would never keep. They despised
those they considered sinners.
But not God. Look at v. 10: Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels
of God over one sinner who repents. When God finds a repentant sinner,
His great heart is overjoyed! Jesus knew the Pharisees would never feel that
way. But those who share the heart of God will. The 1st 2 parables show how a
lost person moves from being the object of Gods righteous condemnation to
the object of His heartfelt joy? The parables tell us how God changes hearts.
I.

Realize We are Incurably Lost Without Christ

Both parables make this point. The woman loses a coin, perhaps part of her
dowry, and is desperate to find it. The shepherd loses a sheep and is desperate
to find it. Jesus uses sheep bc they are stupid and helpless. A dog might find
home. A sheep never! For that reason, they are in constant need of rescue.

Sheep are driven by their desire for food. They will go after grass anywhere.
It doesnt matter how steep or dangerous the spot, they go for the grass.
Sometimes it leads them up and they cant get down. Or they can eat their way
down, but have no way up. They are oblivious to danger and will follow each
other right over a cliff to their death (1500 in Istanbul, 2005). Do you see why
Jesus uses sheep to depict unrepentant sinners? Its not that sheep are warm
and fuzzy. It depicts people driven by desire, oblivious to danger -- following
others to destruction! These parables define the human condition.
Now, just as sheep are driven to feed, so every person alive feeds their soul on
something. Some desire drives every life. The patch of grass may change
occasionally, but we are always seeking soul food. Perhaps its ambition.
Theres nothing wrong with the desire to excel at a career. But if that drives
our existence; if we feel we can be somebody only if we can make it to the top
of that ladder, then that is our soul food. Perhaps its a relationship. Nothing
wrong with dating, but when it becomes, Ill know that Im okay that my
future is secure that I have value if that person will marry me, then it has
become soul food. Perhaps its money. We dont see money as a means, but as
the end. Ill only feel safe and secure when I have $1,000,000 in the bank.
Then Ill be bullet-proof. Suddenly money has become soul food.
And Jesus is saying, If you are finding your soul food anywhere other than
from the Shepherd, you are hopelessly lost. He told the crowd in John 6:35,
I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever
believes in me shall never thirst. He is saying, You must believe in me. I
must be your soul food. Anything else will soon leave you hungry again.
Ambition cannot save you; nor human relationships; nor money; nor
pleasure; nor the respect of men. All will be gone in the twinkling of an eye.
Only I can save you. I must be your soul food. You are lost without me.
Our problem is we will not acknowledge that we are lost. We will not believe
it. The Bible says, All we like sheep have gone astray, but all we see is the
next patch of grass the next sucker food that the Enemy convinces us will
give us worth. Ironically, there is no hope until we see that we are hopeless.
On Feb 6, 1995, a Detroit bus driver finished his shift on Route 21 and headed
for the terminal. When he didnt arrive, the search was on. His wife reported
that he might have become disoriented due to medication. Six hours later state
police found the bus and driver 200 miles NW of Detroit, driving slowly down
a rural two-lane road. When pulled over the driver said he was lost and agreed
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he must have made a wrong turn something that didnt occur to him during
the six hours that he couldnt find the depot. Gone astray, like sheep.
Such is the blindness of men outside of Christ. Oblivious to spiritual danger.
Like the Pharisees. V. 2, And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying,
This man receives sinners and eats with them. Did they even have a clue
what they were saying? They were announcing the best news ever. This man
receives sinners and eats with them. But they would never experience that
eternal blessing for one simple reason. They would not classify themselves as
sinners. Until you know you are lost, you cant be found; until you confess
your sin, you cant be forgiven; until you acknowledge you need a Savior,
youll never find Jesus. Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we
have turnedevery oneto his own way. Chasing what looks good to us
condemns us. But the verse finishes, And the Lord has laid on Him the
iniquity of us all. There is our hope. But until we own our own sin, laid on
Him, sending Him to the cross, we are among those incurably lost outside of
Christ.
II.

Realize We are Intently Looked for By Christ

Suppose you exploring a boggy area one day and you step in quicksand. The
harder you struggle, the deeper you go and soon you are up to your neck. It is
clear you have no hope of getting out on your own. You cry out, but dont
know if anyone hears. What do you need? You need a savior, someone to
rescue you, right? But what if no one comes? You are hopeless without help.
That is exactly the spiritual situation of those without Christ. Thats why the
next part of Jesus parables is so wonderful. The coin is lost BUT, the
woman in v. 8 is going to light a lamp and sweep the house and seek
diligently until she finds it. The sheep is lost, BUT the shepherd in v. 4 is
going to leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is
lost, until he finds it. Glorious news! Even as we are sinking in the quicksand
of sin and death, a Savior is seeking us. Help is on the way due to Gods great
heart. His holiness condemns us; but His love sends a Savior to rescue us.
Jesus is shining the light of the gospel into every God-forsaken corner of a
desperate world, searching for anyone who will repent and turn to Him. John
1:9, The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the
world. Thats Jesus who came to seek and to save that which was lost. The
shepherd longs for every lost sheep. II Pet 3:8: He is not wishing that any
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should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Thats why He came
looking for sinners. Paul says in I Tim 1:15, 15 The saying is trustworthy and
deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners, of whom I am the foremost. Listen carefully, Beloved. No one who
dies in their sin will ever be able to say, No one came. No Savior came for
me. A Savior has come. And He is standing with arms outstretched right now
waiting for your response. Rev 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat
with him, and he with me. Your rescue from the sin that separates you from
God is at your hearts door. If you insist that you really are not in quicksand up
to your neck, or if you insist that you prefer to get out on your own, then your
condemnation will be upon your own head and rightfully so. But you will
never be able to say, No one came. He did come and He has come.
Jesus audience would have known of God welcoming sinners back, but the
thought that He actively sought them because He loved them that was
revolutionary. This was good news. Furthermore, look at v. 5, And when he
has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. What is that about? That
shows how thorough His rescue is. Its not enough just to find a lost sheep.
The lost sheep wont just follow you home. The lost sheep will run around and
you have to grab it, tie it and take it all the way home. Your lost dog will
follow you home when you find it. Not a sheep. Jesus uses sheep to show it is
all grace. Even the faith to accept His offer its a gift of God. But when
we exercise that gift, He carries us all the way home. Isnt that good!
An example. What happened when Adam and Eve sinned? Did they rush to
the feet of God, begging forgiveness? Isnt that what you would expect? But
no they ran; they covered up; they hid. Look at it. Gen 3:8: And they heard
the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and
the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God
among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said
to him, Where are you? 10 And he said, I heard the sound of you in the
garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. Adam and
Eve ate at the wrong place. They chose ambition as soul food. And as they
sank into the quicksand of their own sin, they did not run to God. They hid.
They would have never been saved except God searched them out. Why
did God include that account in the very first pages of the Bible? To show us
Good News. They didnt come for God; He came for them and He provided
the first symbol of a substitute payment for sin when He killed animals to
provide them cover, not with their own fig leaves, but with His blood-bought
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provision. Thats the heart of God, Beloved. He seeks the lost. No lost person
will ever be able to say, You never came. Because He did and He does.
III.

Realize We are Infinitely Loved in Christ

Look at the Shepherd, representing the Father in vv. 6-7: And 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. 7 Just so, I tell you, there
will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine
righteous persons who [think they] need no repentance. Look at the woman
representing the Father in v. 9: And when she has found it, she calls together
her friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin
that I had lost. And then to make the point crystal clear, Jesus says in v. 10:
Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who
repents. What a verse! Notice how naturally Jesus speaks of what happens in
heaven. How can He do that? Because Hes been there, Beloved. Heaven
holds no surprises for Him; Hes seen firsthand how enthusiastically the
Father celebrates a sinner who repents. Notice the verse does not say the
angels rejoice, tho Im sure they do. It says there is joy before the angels in
front of them. Who would that be? It is the Father. He rejoices at finding the
lost. Can you imagine how much God loves and wants you that He rejoices
over every sinner who repents? Arent you glad God isnt a Pharisee? They
would have said, There is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that God
obliterates. But not the Father. He rejoices over every sinner who repents.
Theres a great verse in Zeph 3:17. God describes His unbounded joy over
those who will turn to Him (repent): The LORD your God is in your midst, a
mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will
quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Beloved, if
that doesnt humble you and give you goose bumps, you are a hopeless case.
Imagine God quieting you by His love removing every cause of anxiety and
then exulting over you with loud singing. Its almost too much to take in, isnt
it? God love sinners, but His special, infinite, celebratory love is reserved for
those who repent. Its an amazing thing to be found by God in Christ.
Conc On Jan 10, 1948, Hungarian refugeeMarcel Sternberger boarded the
train for his office in NYC. On the crowded train, he noticed a man in his late
30s reading a Hungarian newspaper, but his eyes had a haunted look.
Sternberger asked if he could borrow the paper which led to an extended
conversation. The young man was named Bela Paskin. He had been a law
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student when war started in 1939. Shortly after he was sent by the Germans
with a labor battalion to Ukraine where he was eventually captured by the
Russians and spent several years as a POW. When the war ended, Paskin spent
weeks working his way back home to Debrecen, in eastern Hungary.
Sternberger knew the city well and they talked about that for awhile.
Then Paskin went on. When he arrived at the apartment occupied by his
parents when he left 6 years before, he found strangers. The same was true of
the apartment upstairs that he had shared with his wife. No one had ever heard
of his family. Eventually he found a neighborhood boy whose parents knew
his parents. Your whole family is dead, he was told. The Nazis took them
and your wife to Auschwitz. With that news, all hope died in Paskin. With
Hungary under Russian domination it had taken him a couple of years to steal
across the border and immigrate to the US. Hed been here only 3 months.
As Paskin told his story, Sternberger was thinking. He had recently met a
young woman at the home of friends who was from Debrecen and who had
been transferred from Auschwitz to work in a German munitions factory. Her
relatives had all been gassed to death. When she was liberated by the
Americans, she joined a group of displaced persons and immigrated in 1946.
Sternberger had been so moved by her story that he had taken her address and
phone number intending to invite her to meet his family. He couldnt imagine
there was any connection, but he asked Paskin in a casual voice, By any
chance, was your wifes name Marya? Paskin turned pale and answered,
Yes! How did you know? Sternberger suggested, Lets get off the train. I
need to make a phone call.
Sternberger dialed the number he had an after an interminable wait, a woman
answered. Bc her English was not good, Marya did not usually answer the
phone, but for some reason, with no one else home, she did. Sternberger asked
her to describe her husband. She was surprised, but did so. He then asked her
address in Debrecen, turned to Paskin and said, Did you live on such-andsuch a street? Paskin turned white as a sheet and answered, Yes. At that
point, Sternberger said, Try to be calm. Something miraculous is about to
happen to you. Please take this phone and talk to your wife. Shortly
thereafter, Sternberger place an emotionally overwhelmed Paskin in a taxi to
his wifes residence where they were reunited after 10 years. When asked later
how she felt, Marya responded, I remember only that when I left the phone,
I walked to the mirror like in a dream to see if maybe my hair had turned
gray. The next thing I know, a taxi stops in front of the house, and it is my
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husband who comes toward me. Details I cannot remember; only this I
knowthat I was happy for the first time in many years.
Its a wonderful thing to be found, Beloved. Have your been found by the
Savior? If so, have you said Yes to His invitation. If not, why not now. It
would rejoice your heart. Even more, it would rejoice the heart of the Father.
Gods eyes say, Yes. What do yours say? Lets pray.