Lost and Found
Open Your Bible
Luke 15:1-32, Ezekiel 34:11–12, Romans 3:10-20
BY Guest Writer
If you’re fortunate, it’s been long enough since you’ve experienced being lost, that you’ve forgotten the sheer terror of it. Dig into your memories and find yourself there again, tucked into a clothing rack at a department store, searching for signs of your mama, or wandering through an unfamiliar city without your GPS, and allow yourself to feel it anew. The sweaty palms, the dry mouth, the disorientation that comes from not knowing which direction to go, the desperation to find yourself safely tucked back into the arms of the familiar.
We can’t fault the Pharisees and scribes, not really. They saw Jesus breaking bread with the “lost,” and they forgot, bless them, how remarkable it is to be found. “And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:2). And so Jesus lays out a series of lessons.
He starts with sheep, a relatively disposable commodity. As a sheep farmer myself, I can say with certainty that the flock matters, as do the individual hooves and horns that make it up, but a lost sheep or two is relatively minor. That is, unless you’re the Good Shepherd… or that one sheep who’s wandered off.
As the religious leaders listened to Jesus, perhaps they counted themselves among the ninety-nine, safe in the pen of rules and right thinking. And yet, whether in the pen or gone astray, the Good Shepherd deeply loves His sheep, all of them. Pay attention to the numbers in this first scene. The ratio of lost to found is one to ninety-nine, but Jesus is about to raise the stakes.
Consider a woman with ten silver coins. One slips through her fingers. It’s lost but not forgotten. She searches earnestly until the coin is in her hands. In Jesus’s second story, the ratio of lost to found is one to nine. Perhaps the Pharisees were still stifling a yawn at this point. Who cares about a single straggling sheep or even a single roll-away coin? When it comes to livestock and treasure, value is all relative.
But what about a son? Would we disregard a lost son carelessly? A loving parent would exhaust every resource to bring their lost boy home. The ratio here is intimate. One boy at home and one gone astray, one obedient and one in rebellion. Each time the Lord teaches the principle, the margins narrow. Heaven can never become so full of the saved that the Lord will cease to care about the lost.
Those who bear His image are not cattle to Him. He doesn’t think of us like pennies, barely worth being picked up off the sidewalk. We are His beloved children, the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). At the cross, He proved He would pay any ransom for us, even if we were the only one lost in the darkness of sin. What the Pharisees didn’t see was that Jesus wasn’t just eating a meal with the lost. He was searching for lost sheep, seeking missing treasure, and running to meet His beloved sons and daughters.
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.