How many of you have ever lost an animal that has wandered off? Growing up we use to always have dogs and cats. I remember several of our cats having kittens so many of our cats we had the joy of seeing grow up. I remember one day at the end of a day when most of the cats would come back in the house for dinner that one was missing. I think we had two cats at the time one was back home safe and sound and the other was still outside somewhere so I went out to look for the lost cat. Looking all around the yard calling the cat by name until I found it. Tucked under a parked vehichle I heard a comotion that sounded like two growling cats. I got down and looked under the vehichle and saw two cats hissing and growling at each other. One cat was my lost cat the other was a cat I’d never seen before.
Excited and relieved that I had found my lost cat I crawled under the vehichle and picked him up and brought him back in the house. The rival cat ran off I can only guess back to his home, but I remember the relief and excitement I felt in knowing that my lost cat was back home safe and sound. There is more joy in heaven over one lost soul that is found than I ever felt over one lost cat.
How many have felt the joy and relief of a lost animal that has been found? The joy that God our Father feels when one of his lost sheep are found far exceeds the joy we felt.
This morning we are talking about the parable of the lost sheep. Its a story of a shepheard who has 100 sheep but notices upon counting that he is short one. He noticed that one had wandered from the fold so he dropped everything and went to find that lost sheep.
Jesus Christ is the great shepheard of the sheep. God our loving Father sent him into this world to seek and to save his lost sheep. I was once one of those lost sheep I thank God he found me. The story of the lost sheep is one of unrelenting grace that goes out to find all the lost sheep. Because of that unrelenting grace we can respond, cry out in repentance and experience the joy of the Kingdom. How is God’s grace at work in our lives? How are we responding to that grace? How are we experiencing the joy of the Kingdom? It is my prayer today that we be more like Christ in this story and less like the Pharisees. That we are eager to seek and to save the lost. Everybody needs to hear the voice of the shepheard calling them by name to respond to his grace. Everybody from the person with the cardboard sign standing at the intersection to the refugee family to the mayor. Everybody needs to hear that God’s grace is greater than all their sins, all failures. May we leave here today more better agents of God’s grace than when we came. May we leave here to seek and to save the lost.
It is my prayer
The scribes and Pharisees were upset that Jesus, the son of God would assosicate with tax collectors and sinners. They came to Christ grumbling about the company he keeps. Jesus responds by telling this story. Suppose one of you had 100 sheep and upon returning from a day grazing in green pastures, and drinking from still waters you take count and realize that you only have 99 sheep. Wouldn’t you leave the 99 in the safety of the flock to go find the one lost sheep?
The shepheard goes out searching for his lost sheep. Tracking him through the wilderness he calls to the sheep. The sheep know the voice of their shepheard. continuing to follow the tracks calling out the sheep he hears the sound of a sheep going baa baa. The shepheard races to the sound and finds his lost sheep relieved and overjoyed he picks up his sheep and brings him back to the flock and calls his other shepheard friends and they all rejoice together over the lost sheep that had been found.
There are three elements to this story I’d like to point out. They are grace, repentance and joy. Grace is present by the shepheard going out to search for the one lost sheep. The shepheard didn’t say the dumb thing wandered off again I guess I’ll just leave it. The shepheard didn’t stop to look to see if it was one his prized sheep, a pure spotless lamb. No the shepheard dropped what he was doing left the 99 and went to look for the one. have any of you ever heard someone say I found Jesus? Well Jesus isn’t lost we are it is because of his mercy and grace that he found us.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.
Jesus Christ is the grace of God revealed to all people. Jesus Christ bore our transgressions, bore our iniquities, because we are all like sheep that have gone astray. We are all lost sheep. The grace of God revealed in Christ his son came to seek and to save those lost sheep. Because of God’s grace we can repent and return to the fold of God. To the kingdom. What is repentance? it means to turn to do a 180. In scripture it is sometimes seen as a calling out to God in repentance. God’s grace is at work calling each one of us to repentance. Like the sheep baaing in the wilderness calling out for his shepheard we too need to respond and call out. God I’ve wandered, I’m sorry I was in the fold but I’ve been sidetracked and now I am lost. God I don’t want to follow my own way anymore but your way. To repent means to turn from ourselves and turn toward God.
When one of God’s lost sheep repents and is returned to the fold there is an imeasurable amount of joy in heaven. Through the sin and iniquity of Adam and Eve there came death, and separation from the fold of God. But praise be to almighty God that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to everyone. By responding to that grace, by calling out in repentance we can pass from death to life and be restored the fold of God. We can rise to life in his kingdom.
We can see the parables Christ told in , at work in Christ ministry in . This is Christ’s encounter with Zacheus. Now Zacheus was a tax collector and not just the run of the mill tax collector but the chief tax collector of his area. He had an abundance of wealth because he would cheat people out of money. He was more despised than a normal tax collector. Why were tax collectors despised? because they worked for the Roman government, and they had a history of cheating people out of money.
One day Zacheus heard that Christ was coming by and he badly wanted to see him. Being a crooked tax collector was not Zacheus only short coming he was also short in height. I understand the feeling. Zacheus could not see over the crowd so he climbed a tree so he could see Jesus as he passed by.
Jesus sees Zacheus up in the tree and says Zacheus I’m going to eat at your house today. Zacheus climbs down the tree and brings Jesus to his house. Jesus goes in and eats with him, much to the pharisees dismay. During the visit Zacheus confesses the wrong he has done to Jesus and promises to repay above and beyond what he cheated people out of. Jesus said to Zacheus today salvation has come to this house for the son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.
Zacheus was persistent, he knew he had to wanted to see Jesus. Nothing was stopping him not his height, not his status as a tax collector, not even the sins of his past. Zacheus the lost sheep in this story wanted to be found and was ready to repent. May we all be more like Zacheus eager to be found, eager to see God work in our lives.
Everybody needs to hear of the grace of God our loving father revealed in Christ his son. This is the good news of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his love and grace he sent Jesus Christ his son into the world to seek and to save the lost. Because of this grace we can respond, repent, call out to God. When we hear the Holy Spirit calling to us urging us not to wander let us quickly respond. When we are lost in our own ways and we hear the voice of the holy spirit, like the sheep baaing in the wilderness, or a cat growling and meowing under a vehichle let us respond by calling out. It is through our calling out that we are restored to the fold of God. That we are part of the eternal Kingdom of God. As we leave here today may we respond to the grace of almighty God our loving father. May we be faithful representatives of his grace at work within us, to the lost sheep of his pasture. Jesus Christ is the grace of God that brings salvation that has appeared to everyone.