Pastor Rob gave us a serious challenge on Sunday, didn’t he, when he unpacked the stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin? I couldn’t help but be convicted when he spoke of taking a well-known Bible story (Luke 15:1-10) and digging deeper to find its application for our lives. I know some people who are “out there” – lost in terms of their connection to God. And I care deeply for them; but is what I feel for them enough?
One of the things I especially love about both these stories is the intensity of the search. The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine other sheep; the woman lights a lamp and takes up her broom. It seems that the shepherd and the woman care deeply about what they know belongs to them. The area beyond the open country is not too great a challenge for the shepherd. The corners of the house are not too dark for the woman; she has a light that exposes them.
But let’s just get real for a minute, okay? What’s the big deal about a sheep and a coin? Are they really worth all that effort? Wouldn’t it be in the best interest, economically at least, to stay with the ninety-nine? Sure it would be! And I really don’t enjoy working up the sweat that comes with sweeping, do you? Have you ever left a penny lying in the street after you dropped it?
The shepherd and the woman, of course, are metaphors for Jesus. The sheep and the coin represent us sinners. Jesus created both the sheep and the raw material that went into making the coin; they are his!! And in this parable he’s telling us very clearly that they are extremely valuable. They are worth the hunt! The trouble is that the Pharisees – mentioned as those ‘muttering’ at the start of the story – don’t know value when they see it. They are right in the midst of it, but are blind as bats. Can you relate? I can!
Is the value of a life subjective? Is one person of more worth than another? There is no one who is hidden from God, is there? No one is too far away that he won’t search for them. No one who is hiding in the darkest corner is outside the circle of his light and love. He knows all, sees all. “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good,” the writer of Proverbs tells us (Pr. 15:3). It’s the choices we make that keep us from seeing the value of one another – or even our own value. But these parables tell me that ‘search and rescue’ are in the DNA of God. And it’s in ours as well. It’s just what happens when lost people – like us – get found by Jesus.