Together in Christ: 'The Shepherd's Heart for His Sheep' — Luke 15:3-7

Sunday, November 3, 2024

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So Jesus told them this story: "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!"
— Luke 15:3-7 NLT

Key Thought

The loss of precious items and people in Luke 15:1-32 — the lost sheep, coin, and sons — are deeply emotional when we understand the full meaning of what had been lost. God wants us to realize how much He yearns for lost, broken, and confused people to come home to Him. He yearns to find them and shower His love, joy, peace, and power upon them. So, Jesus tells these three deeply emotional stories to awaken us to God's passion for lost people!

The lost sheep story is our focus in today's verses. The emotion of this story comes alive when we remember that God is the Shepherd of His people, [1] Jesus is the good Shepherd, [2] and God's leaders are often called shepherds in the Scriptures. [3] God wants us to feel His deep sense of loss when one sheep is missing. He also wants us to rejoice in the celebration when that lost sheep is found. [4]

When people quit coming to our gatherings, turn away from God, grow lukewarm in their faith, or stumble into sin, God doesn't want us just to sit there hoping they will return. Our church culture has lulled us into thinking that the goal of a disciple is to invite people to come to church and find God. God's position, however, is that those with a heart like His don't expect lost people to come to them but to get up and find those who are lost!

The great message of John 3:16 isn't that God loved the world so much that he invited people to His house to meet Him. Instead, God came to us in Jesus of Nazareth, Immanuel — God with us. [5] In Jesus, God lived as one of us and died brutally at our hands. Jesus' disciples see His example and know they should be a go-and-find-them sort of people instead of an invite-them-and-hope-they-return-to-church culture. Our goal is not to get people to come to a building but for us to go and reach them with the love of God! Aren't we glad Jesus left the ninety-nine to come in search of us? Now, he asks us to look among His flock and see who is missing, go and find them, find out how to bless them, and then bless them. Our relationship with people who are lost or who have turned away is one of the essential relationships we have. God is looking for go-find-them-sorts of people with a heart for the lost.

Jesus summed up His passion for His mission with these words:

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."
[1] Psalm 23:1-6, 28:9, 80:1.
[2] John 11:1-16.
[3] Isaiah 56:10; Jeremiah 23:1; Zechariahs 10:3; Ephesians 4:11.
[4] The theme of celebration in Luke 15 is accentuated by Luke 15:32 — we must (ἔδει — the Greek word used in the New Testament for divine necessity) celebrate!
[5] .
[6] Matthew 1:23; Philippians 2:6-11.

Today's Prayer

Father, tune my heart to love those who are lost and broken as You do. Jesus, help me hear the cries from people's hearts so I can serve them as you did and respond to them with grace and mercy to help them find You as their Savior. Holy Spirit, I trust you will give me words to say when I seek to share my hope with others with gentleness and respect. Help me, O, God, to bring Your lost sheep home with great joy. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Luke 15:1-32
  • John 3:16; 1 John 3:16-18; Romans 5:6-11

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Illustration

Illustration of Luke 15:3-7 NLT — So Jesus told them this story: "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!"

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.