Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 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.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 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.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:1-10
How important are lost souls to you? When publicans, those who collected taxes for the Roman government and overcharged to make their living, and other sinners came to Jesus to hear Him and learn of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life which He offered to all, the Pharisees and scribes were critical of Jesus for associating with such sinners.
Jesus told the two parables in our Scripture reading to point out that it is perfectly normal for anyone who loses something to seek it until he finds it. A shepherd with one hundred sheep who loses one does not say, “I still have ninety-nine,” and then forget about the one that is lost. Even the scribes and Pharisees would not do such a thing! Nor would a woman with ten silver coins who lost one of them just forget about the one lost coin and be content with the nine. Both the shepherd and the woman in these two parables would seek out and find that which was lost. Then they would rejoice because they had found that lost sheep or that lost coin. Wouldn’t we also act in the same way if we were to lose something of ours?
So also every lost soul is extremely important to the Lord. Our God created man to live for Him and serve Him in eternal righteousness. Because man fell into sin, He sent His only-begotten Son into this world a true man, that He might fulfill the righteous demands of God’s Law and suffer and die for our sins and then rise again on the third day. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. During His earthly ministry, He sought out all sinners and turned away none who came to hear His saving Gospel.
Since He had come into this world to redeem fallen mankind by His innocent sufferings and death, it gave our Savior great joy, along with the angels of God in heaven, when a lost sinner repented and turned to Him for forgiveness and life everlasting. Our Lord Jesus was not afraid to associate with sinners; He shed His blood to redeem them!
Since Christ died to redeem us, should not we also live in daily repentance, being truly sorry for our sins and trusting in our Savior for forgiveness and eternal salvation? It gives our risen Savior, as well as the angels in heaven, great joy when we hear His Word and live in daily repentance. We certainly should not, as did the scribes and the Pharisees, consider ourselves righteous and in no need of repentance (cf. 1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2; Prov. 28:13).
Like our Savior, we also should seek out lost souls and rejoice when they are brought to repentance. We should not be satisfied if 99 percent of our members are continuing in the truth and only one is gone astray; we should seek that one until he is found and returns to the fold. The same is true of the lost souls who are not under the care of our congregation. We should, in the love of our Savior, seek out the lost and seek to bring them to the Good Shepherd by sharing with them the saving truths of God’s Word.
Christ Jesus shed His holy, precious blood to redeem them. We also ought to care enough for their souls to share with them the good news of forgiveness and life everlasting through faith in the Savior. Never should we be ashamed to be seen sharing the Gospel with lost sinners, no matter how bad their past reputation!
Knowing Thee and Thy salvation, grateful love dare never cease to proclaim Thy tender mercies, Gracious Lord, Thy heav’nly peace. Sound we forth the Gospel tidings to the earth’s remotest bound that the sinner has been pardoned and forgiveness can be found. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #498, Verse 4)
[Scripture quotations are from The ESV® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]