Focus Passage: Luke 15:1-7
How important are you to Jesus? Many of us feel like God doesn’t care. He may want to help when hundreds of people are struggling, but helping just one seems like too much. How important are you to your father or your mother? What would they do to help you even though you are just one person? Jesus told a parable about the importance of one.
Three shiny school buses pulled up at the Cincinnati zoo with a load of third and fourth graders. The teacher in charge lectured the children about staying with their chaperone. Then[ME1] off they went across the bridge and into the Zoo. Ted was following the group when he spotted a docent showing off an eagle feather and talon. He heard squawking behind him and went to see the eagles in their cage. After a few minutes, he realized that he wasn’t with the rest of the group. He began to panic. At the same time, Mrs. Kravitz was counting heads and realized Ted was gone. She jumped up and began to retrace her steps finally finding Ted crying in front of the eagle cage. Ted was lost like sheep in the text and like the sinners that were gathered around Jesus. There was a big difference between the Pharisees who were against Jesus and the sinners who just got lost.
Many lost sheep don’t deliberately run away v.4a Like Ted in the story, sheep don’t deliberately run away. They see a green patch of grass just beyond the flock and head for it. Soon they look around and don’t see the flock. Some people get distracted. They got busy and one day looked up and found that they were outside the church. They were not sure how to come back. Would people at the church accept them and would they feel comfortable?
Lost sheep can’t find their way back v.4b Like Ted in our story when sheep are lost, they normally can’t find their way back. They might head off in one direction looking for the flock and then another. In the end, the shepherd has to go looking for them. We think that everyone can find their way back to church, but it is harder than we think. It is hard to get back into the routine. They feel awkward because they have been gone for a while. Someone help them feel welcome to be back.
Lost sheep are valuable v.5 When the shepherd finds the sheep, he rejoices just like any teacher would the teacher did in our story. The sheep were so valuable that you didn’t even trust them to find their way back. The shepherd carried it on his shoulders to make sure that it got back safe. Lost sheep are valuable in the church. We sit with them in worship and help them get comfortable. Lay people need to do that and don’t expect the pastor will do it all because people are valuable to us all.
Sitting at the cheetah show, Ted was so happy to be back with his class. He wouldn’t admit it, but he thought that he would never find a home. He would vow that day to never leave the group again, but those who knew Ted knew that like a sheep he might wander off again. He was easily distracted. The sheep in the text can’t tell you how happy it is to be back in the flock, but many of the sheep who have come back to church in these doors will gladly tell you their story if asked. There is a joy coming back to the Lord and being part of the church once again. It is a joy in finding that the Lord still wants you and can forgive you anything you have done. It is a joy in being part of the flock again and having people support you. It is a joy in finding how the Lord blesses your life again and how good it feels to have his comfort and love. It doesn’t mean that sheep can’t get distracted again. The world is a busy place. It is just nice to have them home.