In Luke 15, Jesus told three stories to illustrate how God cares about people who are separated from him. Three themes in these stories demonstrate this.
Each story relates how the lost thing or person becomes found. The shepherd went out searching for the lost sheep. The housewife looked in every nook and cranny for the lost coin. The father waited longingly at the city gates for his son’s return. In each case, some urgency or exertion was required for the lost thing to be restored. The exertion God made toward us was to send his Son to be our Savior. Jesus told his followers that he “came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). As a result, Romans 5:10 says, “while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.”
Each story also illustrates the value of each individual to God. The shepherd left ninety-nine other sheep behind to go get the one that was lost. The woman still had nine coins left, but she mounted an effort to find the one that was missing. One son was still living at home even after the other son abandoned his family, but the father still cared about and stood in watch for the lost one. This pattern suggests that God individually values each person who is far from him.
Another revealing feature of these stories is the joy expressed when the lost is restored. The shepherd called all his friends and invited them to celebrate with him, as did the woman. We might be tempted to view the lost son differently. After all, he dishonored his father and squandered the family’s resources. We might expect the father to disown or condemn him. The son himself hoped only to be received back as a servant. Yet contrary to our expectations, the father welcomed him with an elaborate and expensive party. Similarly, Jesus said (verse 10): “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
God takes the initiative toward people.
God’s initiative toward people shows his attitude toward the lost. For example, God reached out to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, calling him to abandon the gods of his father, to leave his homeland and follow him to a new place, where God promised to bless him. Years later, God continued to seek relationship with Abraham’s descendants, now formed into a nation called Israel (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). Again and again God has initiated relationship with people by calling them to himself based only on his choice, not on any worth or merit in them.
John 3:16 expresses the same heart of God toward lost people everywhere. God acted on his love for lost humanity, it says, by sending his Son – Jesus – so that whoever trusts in him would not perish but enjoy life with God forever. Romans 5:8 adds that Jesus took the step of dying for us “while we were still sinners.” That is, while we were still lost and separated from God, Jesus exerted himself for us to find us and make a way for us to return to him.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.