14th Sunday after Pentecost
September 15, 2019
“Suppose One of You”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our Good Shepherd Jesus. The basis for the sermon is our Gospel lesson from Luke 15.
My dear friends,
Have you ever heard of “Geocaching’? Geocaching is a little hard to describe. It part treasure hunt, part hiking, and absolutely an outdoor “game” for GPS users or cell phones with GPS technology. The basic idea of Geocaching is to have “players” cleverly hide caches all over the world and share the latitude/longitude locations of these caches on the Internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to go out and find the caches. There is nothing of real value in the caches. It’s usually trinkets and little tradable items. It’s not just me doing this, either. To date, there are more than 2.9 million caches worldwide and there are more than 1100 caches right here in Sarasota!
You ever been lost without a GPS? Once, I was out in a large State Forest in central MN and, looking for a geocache and getting off the marked trail, ended up getting turned around out in the middle of nowhere. I don’t panic easily, but I was starting to panic a bit. Feeling like you’re lost or actually being lost is no fun whether you’re out in the woods or driving in an unfamiliar town or wherever. But the joy of getting back on the right trail or finding the right street sure feels good, doesn’t it? It’s quite a rush to know that everything’s going to be all right; no more being lost…only the joy of knowing that you’re found and you’re safe.
Maybe you can see where I’m going with this. In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus has something to say about things getting lost. He is still addressing the “great crowd” from Luke 14 and we know that there were a variety of people – including members of the religious leadership – around Jesus at this point including Tax Collectors and Sinners – the “worst of the worst” – of 1st century society; these people were “lost” in life. The religious leaders felt they were outside of God’s grace; they were “lost” for all eternity. Upon seeing Jesus with these people, the Pharisees and the scribes muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus’ point by telling, like last week, two parables that teach the same truth: If that which was lost is being found, the Pharisees and Scribes should rejoice, not complain.
Jesus began the parables “Suppose one of you” (NIV; ESV (Greek) has “what man of you,” but this pertains to women too you know) lost something of value. A lost sheep has value for its companionship, its wool, and its re-sale at market. So does a coin obviously. The silver coin that was lost in the parable would have been a drachma. A Greek drachma was equal to one Roman denarius (show) or about 1 day’s wages. What is one day’s wages today? The median daily wage in the US is a little more than $150. So, suppose one of you lost a $100 bill? Are you going to look hard to find it? Of course…that’s a lot of money!
All of us have lost something from time to time and know the panic that sets in: wallets, purses, cell phones, remote controls, keys, family members, hope, joy. Maybe some you know have even lost faith.
When something gets lost, of course you’ll look for it because (A) it has value, and (B) it’s not going to find itself. The 99 sheep were left behind to find the 1 lost sheep because it had value. The 9 coins were left in order to find the 1 lost coin because it has value. What’s the result when the lamb or coin is found? Both verses 6 and 9 of the parables state that the result is rejoicing, because what was lost is now found again.. .and that’s a GOOD feeling – to find the path, the road, the destination, or the misplaced item.
In the parables we are told, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (verse 10). People were “lost” to God after the Garden of Eden. Sadly and tragically there are so many today who would rather stay lost. There are many who are hostile towards God, towards Jesus, towards the Bible, towards clergy and/or organized religion, and so on. Sinful sheep are happy to stay lost because they don’t know any different; they don’t yet know the joy in being found. Those who know what God has done for them repent, and the repentant know the true joy that faith can and does bring in this life; the joy that comes with being found.
And God found that which was lost. It is not as if God lost His people in the sense that He didn’t know where to find them, I mean, He’s GOD…He doesn’t absent-mindedly misplace stuff like you and I do.
In the ultimate act of reclaiming that which was lost, Jesus Christ came into the world to seek those who were lost – YOU – and like the Good Shepherd that He is, Jesus did what was necessary to find us and call us back to Him; to see and save that which was lost. You want to talk about fear and dread? No cross of Christ means no chance at redemption for you and no chance at redemption means only death and damnation for eternity. But because of what Jesus has done, He has saved a lost world from itself; He found us who were lost. In God’s eyes, we are His blood-bought, Baptized, redeemed children; that gives us value.
How many wandering sheep or lost coins does Good Shepherd have? How many year-round members have not walked through those doors in the last month…the last year? How many people in our community are content to stay lost? How many people live within 500 yards of this campus, but have never heard the Gospel? How many in and around your midst – your family and friends – also need to hear the call to repentance and be led by the Holy Spirit to green pastures? What are you actively doing to help them be found?
Suppose one of you helps a lost soul to be found by inviting them to church and helping to lead them to a life of faith so that they enjoy the ultimate victory celebration on the Last Day. Suppose that soul who was lost is seated next to you at the heavenly banquet…how will that feel? Suppose one of you puts forth the effort such that one lost sinner may joyfully sing, “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind…but now I see.” There are so many lost people who don’t need a GPS to geocache; life has enough “games” already. They need a relationship with our saving and redeeming God. They need our care, our love, our outreach, and our help through God’s grace and love. Amazing things can happen when you share the Gospel and a lost sinner is found.
And just imagine the rejoicing in heaven when THAT happens!