“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.’
“‘Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’” – St. Luke 15:3-10
During my life, I have spent much time not knowing where I was. Years ago, when I lived in a major United States city, I often got lost. Consequently, to solve my dilemma, I bought a compass and placed it on my dashboard. That compass always guided me safely to my destination.
On occasions, I became a bit disoriented. Even though my compass was guiding me in the right direction, I felt that I was lost and wanted to go in the opposite direction. Notwithstanding that, I relied upon my compass, which was always right.
Often, because of life’s circumstances, we lose our way. We get lost. God has given us His word as our compass. When we rely upon it, we are kept on the right path. Like my compass, God’s word will always lead us safely home.
In the above text, Jesus uses two parables to teach about God. There are two words that are keys to understanding the parables about which Jesus spoke. They tell us much about God.
The first word is “until”. In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd searches until he finds the lost sheep. Also, in the parable of the lost coin, the woman searches “until” she finds the lost coin. In both of these stories, the word “until” describes a relentless search for that which is lost.
The search will not end until the lost is found. Neither the shepherd nor the householder gives a mere glance, but rather they both exhaust every means to find that which was lost. Neither gives up the search.
God is like that; He relentlessly searches for that which is lost. God does not give up on us.
The second key word is “rejoice” for that which is lost. Both the shepherd and the woman did rejoice when they found that for which they searched. The joy was so great because their search had been so intense.
I know what it is to find that which has been lost. When my children were young, I have lost them in malls and amusement parks. When I found them, it was a moment of great rejoicing.
As we recover from Hurricane Dorian, many Bahamians are searching for family members and friends lost in Abaco and Grand Bahama. They will not stop until they are found and when they are found, there will be great rejoicing.
No wonder the tax collectors and sinners gathered around to listen to Jesus. In Jesus’ audience were many outcasts who were led to believe that they were not worthy of God’s concern. However, in Jesus, they heard words of acceptance. As He spoke, they must have wondered, “Is this how God feels toward me?”
The parables answer in the affirmative, yes! What a portrait Christ paints of the grace of God, never giving up on a person, searching until the lost is found. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor of the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Dr., can be reached at P. O. Box N4794, telephone 242-426-9084, or Web page: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.