Seeking the Lost: Luke 15:1-7
Luke 15:4 - I would ask, "What human shepherd would leave his 99 sheep all alone in the wilderness, where ravenous wolves were ready to devour, to go after one sheep that has wandered away? What man would risk the 99 for one and determine not to come back till he had found his lost one? I don't know if any human shepherd would, but God did. The lost state of a sinner absorbs more the attention of God than the state of 9999 un-lost righteous ones. I asked myself, where shall I find my God and I understood He's where the lost are to be found; for, He's gone out after them. A person who doesn't have a heart for the lost is far away from the heart of God. He is a stranger to the Shepherd. There cannot be mission without vision and passion. A man after God's own heart goes after the heart of God; and God's heart goes after the lost, seeking till it is found. The pharisees were not happy to find Jesus with the sinners, the lost; but, one cannot expect to find Him anywhere else when it comes to mission. He came to seek and save the lost. If you want to be with Jesus, you cannot but also go out where He goes, to the lost.
Luke 15:5-7 "When he found... sinner who repents." Christ finds his sheep when the sinner repents.
"And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing." The sheep on the Shepherd's shoulders is not a burden but an expression of great joy. The missionary is God's shepherd who goes out, constrained by the love of Christ, to seek the lost. Mission is not a burden but an unavoidable urgency to him. The missionary is not just a travelling evangelist or a cross-cultural mission base founder; he is a shepherd. Unless he has the heart of the shepherd, he cannot go out with the heart of Christ seeking for the lost. In fact, the missionary might not even look at "mission" as a mission as such. He simply does what the Shepherd does with a heart that follows the Shepherd's heart. Only a true shepherd will lay the lost sheep on his shoulders, rejoicing. The false shepherds only think of keeping their distance from the sheep, to be held in reverence, to be served, and to be taken care of properly: how false!! These will avoid the trouble of seeking the lost. "Aye, God will save them if He wants; or He will send someone," they will say. Some will even try to take the credit of saving souls when they have done nothing. These false shepherds don't have burden for souls, but look at souls as a burden to be avoided. They are, therefore, not sent by God. One cannot be a missionary unless he is first a shepherd, not necessarily in the sense of local church pastoring, but certainly in the sense of having a sense of belongedness towards, a reaching out to, and a joy connected with the salvation and bringing in of the sheep, laying it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Luke 15:6 - It displays the depth and width of rejoicing; it stretches out to share this joy with others. This joy us quite different from the modern day evangelist's reporting of how many made to the altar or how many decisions card were signed. Some of these reports are not reports of joy but reports to attract donations and gifts or to create a "great evangelist" image. How pharisaic! But, the heart of Christ is not like that. He is almost like a child in His joy, in fact more. I think we have here a picture of what brings the greatest joy to the heart of heaven. We tend to think that heaven is a place of joy, which it is. But, it is also a place of grief and weeping for the lost. But, when a sinner repents, there is joy in heaven.
Luke 15:7 - "repents". As we saw, God finding us is synonymous with we repenting of our sins. Repentance is the line of division between the old and the new. Repentance is what the NT means when it talks of being dead to sin and alive to God. The Calvinists have got it all wrong when they think that God constitutionally regenerates a person so that the person becomes capable to repent and believe. The NT declares repentance as the experience of mourning over sin, turning away from it, and turning to God in faith. Repentance is the point where the Father declares "He was lost but now is found, was dead but now is alive again."