If we were selecting some of the great chapters of the Bible, it is certain that Luke 15 would be among them. The chapter describes the activity of the Trinity as it is involved in the redemption of a soul.
The parable is in three sections describing, first of all, the activity of the Son suffering to recover the lost sheep.
Secondly we see the Spirit, through the Church seeking the lost silver.
Thirdly we see the Singing Father as he welcomes home his lost Son. (Note also the joy in the chapter.)
The chapter opens with a crowd around Jesus. Four kinds of people were present. The tax-collector and sinners drew near unto Him. They were the notorious sinners and irreligious people who walked the dirt side of the Broad Road. The Pharisees and scribes who rigidly observed the Law were present; also they walk the clean side of the Broad Road.
The sinners were attracted to the Lord because of their need. The Pharisees and scribes complained indignantly that He welcomed sinners and even ate with them.
Note the difference in attitude to the common people between the Pharisees and the Lord. The Pharisees gathered their garments closely around them so that they might not be defiled by touching the unclean sinner.
On the other hand the Lord mingled freely with the dregs of humanity. Even though they were ceremonially unclean—physically unclean—a promiscuous crowd indeed. Then on occasion he sat down among them and shared their lunch.
The Pharisees’ accusation, though spoken derisively, was the Gospel truth in all its simplicity and purity. “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.”
“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world, to save sinners” 1 Tim 1:15. He saved the chief of sinners—He can save you.
“Sinners Jesus will receive, Sound this word of grace to all.”
The parable of the lost sheep and the suffering Savior.
Let me dispose of some of the technicalities of the parable.
1. The sheep that is lost represents the sinner who has wandered away from God.
2. Those whom the Shepherd left in the wilderness—not safe in the fold—are the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees. They did not consider themselves lost, so they did not think they needed to be sought and found.
The lost sheep.
A lost sheep cannot find its way back to the fold, the shepherd must bring it.
In the spiritual realm the lost sheep is in a place of alienation from God, in a state of spiritual destitution.
If you are here without Christ you have wandered away from God—you are lost—you are a sinner without God—without Christ—without hope—afar off without strength—ungodly—sinners—enemies. Your iniquities and sins have separated you and your God. Isa 59:2. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23.
To acknowledge that you are a sinner is a bitter pill to swallow (The Prodigal Son), but you will never be saved unless you do this. You must be convinced intellectually and emotionally for the will to be unbroken.
Illustrate this truth by Naaman’s cleansing.
Naaman was a great man—he had great riches—he was a great soldier.
Describe him as Supreme Commander—his bearing—his immaculate uniform. Despite the façade—the prestige—the honor—he was a leper—doomed to a premature death.
Naaman admitted that he was a leper. Rebelled against the simplicity of the cure. Later he repented and obeyed the message of God through His servant. He humbled himself, dipped seven times in the muddy waters of the Jordan and was healed. His flesh became as a little child’s.
It is only those who obey the Word of God and receive Christ as Savior that will be saved. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” “There’s only hope in trusting Jesus.”
A person without Christ, in God’s estimation, is “lost” now. John 3:36. “He that believeth not the Son.” But it is awesome to think of being “lost” for eternity.
In no instance in the New Testament does “being lost” signify cessation of existence. No thought of annihilation. To be lost eternally is to be in a state of conscious suffering forever. Describe Luke 16: Rich man in hell.
Consider Judas in this matter. Judas went out and it was night—Eternal night. The Lord said of him “And none of them is lost except the son of perdition.”
“What shall it profit a man if he gain the world and lose his soul.”
“The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” Luke 19.
The seeking, suffering Savior
“But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed.
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through
Ere He found the sheep that was lost.”
The deep waters
Save Me of God, for the waters are come into My soul.
I sink in deep mire where there is no standing.
I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow Me.
The dark night
Now from noon until 3pm there was darkness.
About 3pm Jesus cried with a loud voice “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Describe the sufferings of Christ.
Jesus my Savior on Calvary’s tree
Paid the great debt and my soul He set free;
Oh it is wonderful—how could it be?
Dying for me, for me.
Crowned with thorns upon the tree,
Silent in thine agony.
Dying, crushed beneath the load,
Of the curse and wrath of God.