I really don’t like having to search for things.
If you are anything like me, you might even get a little irritated when you have to spend time looking for something that is lost. Part of that, I suppose, is that my time is valuable to me. There are plenty of useful things to do in a given day, and having to spend time searching for something that isn’t where it’s supposed to be just seems so incredibly wasteful. But of course, as much as I dislike it, sometimes I still find myself searching for things. Sometimes, the thing that is lost is important enough to me that I’m willing to spend the time making the search.
In the 15th chapter of the book of Luke, the Lord tells three parables which all deal with valuable things that are lost. The first of these is found in verses 4-7, and deals with a shepherd who has a hundred sheep, one of which becomes lost. The shepherd then leaves the ninety-nine sheep that are not lost, and searched until he finds the sheep that has strayed from where it was supposed to be.
The second of the parables in Luke 15 is found in verses 8-10. It tells of a woman who had ten silver coins, but she loses one. So, she lights a lamp and sweeps her house until she finds it. After each of these two parables he Lord indicates that the person who found what they were looking for called together their friends and neighbors and said they should rejoice with them, because they had found that which was lost. The Lord also notes that in the same way there will be much rejoicing in heaven over a sinner who repents.
Then, in verses 11-32, Jesus tells what we sometimes call the parable of the prodigal son. “Prodigal” means “wasteful” or “recklessly extravagant”, and this is a perfectly accurate description of the son who asked for his inheritance and proceeded to spend it recklessly. Even still, the Lord indicates in this parable as well that the son’s humble return to his Father’s house should be an occasion for great rejoicing. Listen to how He describes it in verse 32, “…we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.”
Which of us doesn’t feel a wave of relief when we have been looking and looking for something, and then – finally – we find it? Especially when the thing we’ve been looking for is valuable. We might even feel like rejoicing, just like the people in one of these parables! But that is when we search for things that we believe are valuable…what is our reaction to the things that Jesus says are valuable?
The point Jesus wants to make with the parables we’ve been thinking about is that men and women are valuable – even when they are sinners. He told these parables because the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling about the time that Jesus was spending in the company of sinners. And yet, that is exactly why Jesus came: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10).
He wasn’t talking about sheep.
He wasn’t talking about coins.
He was talking about me. He was talking about you. He was talking about souls.
The souls of men and women who are lost in sin are valuable to the Lord, and if we are striving to be Christlike – then those souls ought to be valuable to us as well, and we should be looking for them too. Every one of us will spend time searching for something we’ve lost, if that thing is valuable enough to us. If we are not spending some time in our lives seeking to save those who are lost, what does that say about how valuable we see the souls of men and women?
by Alan Wilemon