Text: Luke 15:1–10
Theme: Valuable beyond measure
Other Lessons: Ezekiel 34:11–24; Psalm 119:169–176,
1 Timothy 1:(5–11) 12–17
A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace from God our heavenly Father and from our Lord
and Savior, Jesus Christ.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
709 The King of Love My Shepherd Is
The King of love my shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.
Text: Public domain
A. There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner
4. One of the biggest temptations many pastors and congregations face is
numbers, numbers, numbers.
A. average worship attendance,
B. number of adult converts,
C. average giving per communicant member.
D. We’re tempted to measure success in terms of numbers.
1. So we get puffed up and proud when the numbers increase.
2. “My power and the strength of my hands have done all this.”
3. And we despair when the numbers are decreasing—the pews are empty, the
4. We can lose heart.
5. we worry about the future.
6. We go into survival mode.
E. It’s all about numerical growth at all costs.
1. Love of numbers is powerfully intoxicating.
2. Our sinful nature worships at the altar of numerical success.
3. But then we have a new god—a form of idolatry we might call “numerolatry.
F. Of course, numbers can be a good thing.
1. The Book of Acts has a lot of numbers:
A. three thousand,
B. five thousand,
C. “more than ever believers were added.”
D. The Book of Numbers has a lot of numbers as well.
E. In fact, God commanded a census.
F. There were 603,550 men at the beginning of the book, 601,730 men at the
G. Numbers showed how the hand of God was blessing his people.
G. But then, the love of numbers can also be a great temptation.
1. King David, not the Lord this time, ordered a census of his fighting
2. We don’t know his exact motive, but it couldn’t have been good.
3. God didn’t tell him to do it.
4. It says Satan “incited” him (1 Chronicles 21:1).
5. And because of it, the Lord sent a plague.
6. Seventy thousand men fell dead.
7. There are some numbers for all you number-crunchers! We incur God’s
3. But Jesus goes on a relentless search for one lost sheep.
A. But that’s what’s so comforting about our text today.
1. Jesus isn’t concerned about filling all the pews.
2. He even leaves the ninety-nine in the open country.
3. He’s concerned about a single sheep.
4. He makes an difficult search for one lost sheep.
5. He is filled with supreme joy when one lost sheep is found.
B. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were muttering, criticizing,
grumbling, complaining, arguing amongst themselves:
1. “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (verse 2).
2. They kept on saying this aloud, kept on openly voicing their displeasure
3. “This man,” “this fella,” “this guy.”
4. All very derogatory.
5. They didn’t even want to pronounce the name Jesus.
6. What they said was absolutely true.
7. They said a great truth.
8. But they meant it for evil.
9. It’s like when Caiaphas said more than he knew:
A. “It is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that
the whole nation should perish” (John 11:50).
C. So, in contrast to the Pharisees, Jesus shows God’s gracious heart in
the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son.
1. His utter delight is to seek and save one lost sinner.
2. God’s Word clearly teaches that God so loved the whole world of sinners.
3. In our individualistic society, it’s good to emphasize the corporate
nature of the Holy Christian Church.
4. But these parables also show us God’s love for the individual sinner.
D. Every single person is important to Jesus.
1. One out of one hundred sheep, one out of ten coins, one out of two sons.
2. One seems rather insignificant to us.
3. But you are more precious in the sight of God than all the gold on
4. Your soul and body are precious to him.
5. If you had been the only sinner in the world, he would have died for
6. God’s love for you is radical, even absurd to our reason.
E. To leave ninety-nine sheep alone in the wilderness to seek one makes no
1. Actually, it is quite irresponsible.
2. Nobody who counts the cost would do such a thing.
3. It’s not worth it.
4. We would cut our losses long before we would leave the group in search
of one “sheep”.
5. We’d say, “Well, I still have ninety-nine that haven’t wandered off.”
6. But our Lord is like an irresponsible shepherd.
7. He’s consumed with passion to save the single lost soul.
8. He won’t rest until he’s found that sheep.
9. That ought to be a great comfort to us.
2.And then see how the whole community rejoices when the one is found!
A. So in this little parable, what do we have? We see:
1. a great loss,
2. an intense search,
3. and finally a joyful finding.
B. What a happy day it was when the lost sheep was found!
1. The shepherd didn’t give it a beating.
2. He was compassionate.
3. He didn’t even compel the sheep to walk.
4. He carried it on his shoulders.
C. Like Isaiah 40 says:
1. “He will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom
[that is, close to his heart], and gently lead those that are with young”
D. And then we see how the whole community rejoiced.
E. The shepherd calls his friends and neighbors together and says,
1. “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost” (verse 6).
2. What great joy there is when a sinner repents.
3. What joy God and all the holy angels know when a lost sinner is found.
4. Heaven resounds with joy over the repentance of one.
F. “This Man welcomes sinners.”
1. Thanks be to God the Pharisees were right!
2. Jesus is constantly welcoming and eating with sinners.
3. He continues to do this in our midst, feeding us with his own body and
4. Instead of just going through the motions, think of that the next time
you kneel at the railing.
5. He’s got you on his shoulders.
6. He’s carrying you with joy.
7. He just can’t wait for the party.
8. You are that one lost sheep.
9. He has found you.
10. He has worked repentance and faith in you.
11. There is rejoicing over you today, rejoicing in the presence of the
angels of God.
G. So instead of getting all wrapped up in the love of numbers, we are
content with the preaching of God’s Word in all its truth and purity, as
the people of God living holy lives according to it, and leaving the
results to God.
1. And rejoicing when one sinner repents.
2. To God, One Sinner Is Valuable beyond Measure.
3. You are valuable beyond measure.
4. You’re not a number.
1. So you are much more than a number.
A. Illustration: the series of books titled All Creatures Great and Small
by James Herriot, declares “you are more than a number” very well.
B. The books center around a trio of veterinary surgeons working in the
Yorkshire Dales beginning in 1937.
1. Siegfried Farnon (described as an “eccentric”) hires James Herriot into
his veterinary practice at Skeldale House.
2. Besides Siegfried and James, there is Siegfried’s younger brother,
Tristan, and Mrs. Hall, their housekeeper.
C. In one story, James was lamenting about the disappearance of the small
1. He went out on a call to a huge dairy operation.
2. Nobody had time for him.
3. They were all rushing around; the milk truck was coming soon.
4. The cows were just “milk production units,” known only by numbers on
5. In contrast, his next call was to a small farmer.
6. He was hospitable, friendly.
7. He offered a bit of lunch before they went to the barn.
8. And the few animals were all known by name.
D. So your Good Shepherd knows you by name; you are his.
1. You’re not just a number.
2. Many other passages in Scripture convince you of that as well:
A. “You are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7b).
B. “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7a).
C. He has engraved you on the palms of his hands; you are his (cf Isaiah
A. Maybe you’ve heard of a band called Lost And Found.
1. They’re a couple of Lutheran guys named Michael Bridges and George Baum,
and they’re a lot of fun.
2. Their concerts involve lots of banter and jokes with the audience, but
also always a clear witness to Christ.
3. Some of their best stuff is beautiful renditions of hymns.
B. The band is sometimes asked:
1. “Which one of you two is Lost, and which one of you is Found?”
2. And everybody laughs.
3. No answer, really.
4. It doesn’t work that way.
5. It’s not an either/or.
C. In Luke 15, Jesus tells three magnificent parables about things that are
1. a lost sheep,
2. a lost coin,
3. and a lost son
4. The wonderful result is that all three that were lost were found.
5. Happy endings!
6. Rejoicing in heaven!
D. But no rejoicing—at least that we hear about—from Jesus’ primary
1. Jesus told the parables to Pharisees and scribes who were grumbling
because Jesus was eating with tax collectors and other notorious sinners.
2. Why didn’t they rejoice when they heard about lost being found?
3. The reason is that they couldn’t see themselves in the stories.
4. They certainly understood that Jesus was talking about the bad folks—the
really bad sinners—when he talked about the lost, but they weren’t pleased
when Jesus’ parables had happy endings for such sinful people.
5. They wanted them to be punished, shamed from polite society.
E. What the Pharisees and scribes failed to understand was that Jesus’
parables were also about them!
1. They were lost!
2. All the evidence you need for proof is that they had no love or
compassion for fellow sinners.
3. When the shepherd went out looking for the lost sheep, when the woman
searched for her missing coin, when the father scanned the horizon every
day hoping to see his prodigal son again, Jesus was reaching out to them!
4. Jesus wanted the scribes and Pharisees to be found.
5. He wanted to have a party in heaven celebrating them.
6. But, see, they couldn’t be found if they didn’t realize that they were
7. And they refused to admit that.
F. It’s not this one is lost, this one is found.
1. None of us is either/or.
2. We’re all lost—every bit as wicked as the tax collectors and notorious
sinners, every bit as wicked as the unloving Pharisees and scribes—but
Jesus died on the cross to find us all.
3. By the way, it’s worth noticing, not insignificant, that the band Lost
And Found capitalizes the A in And.
4. You’re lost and found!
G. With Jesus, you’re not just a number.
1. You’re a precious lamb.
2. He loves you.
3. He died for you.
4. He redeemed you.
5. He searched for you.
6. He found you.
7. He is full of joy over you.
8. May you be convinced of that, for Jesus’ sake.
H. Let us pray:
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me
And on His shoulder gently laid
And home rejoicing brought me. (LSB 709:3)
I. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus.
J. In the Name of the Father…Amen.