Luke 15:4 “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?”
Last week, a lost sheep was found. No, really. A sheep that had been lost for maybe five years was discovered in a remote area of Australia. And yes, that’s a picture of that sheep.
Of course, this well known verse is not about sheep. It’s the beginning of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ judgment that He eats with sinners rather than the righteous. There are some interesting correlations, though, to draw from the heart of God for the lost one and that sheep that was found last week in Australia.
That sheep had great value. Total weight? 180 pounds. The amount of wool that was shorn from it? 90 pounds. Half of the sheep’s weight was wool! The rightful Australian farmer is petitioning the Guinness Book of World Records. It might end up that this lost sheep is more valuable than any of those in the pen.
A lost sheep increases in value over time.
Jesus points this out in the next example beginning in verse 9. “Rejoice with me because I have found the silver coin I lost!” I have a silver dollar somewhere that’s packaged and has never been in circulation. Truly, I’m not sure where that is right now. But as every day passes, it becomes more valuable. Someday, I’ll come across it and I’ll rejoice in that value!
Here’s the point. If God places great value on the lost sheep, then we should, too. It might even be valid to argue that value increases the longer one is lost. But that’s not the only reason to pray for the lost and do the work of evangelism.
The lost are perishing. I don’t mean they’re destined to perish. I mean the lost are in the process of perishing real-time. Consider that lost sheep in the picture. The farmer testified of significant skin injury and trapped waste product that threatened its life. In fact, the sheep would have succumbed in the next week or two if it had not been found.
Being lost is not a wait to be found. It’s a process of perishing. Jesus teaches us this in verse 17, in the body of his last response to the Pharisees’ accusation. In this well known story, the prodigal son who Jesus compares to the lost sheep and the lost coin “comes to himself” and says, “I’m dying of hunger.” The word “dying” here is the same Greek work translated as “lost” throughout the chapter. In fact, the word is first and foremost translated as “perishing.”
Those who are away from God are not in a holding pattern until they’re found. They’re perishing.
No wonder there’s such rejoicing on earth and in heaven when one is found. It’s both a rescue from death and hell and a deposit of great value in heaven. That’s you!