Illustrations of Grace: The Lost Sheep

Grace is one of the most important concepts in the Bible. Jesus helps us to understand the importance of grace for our lives and how it should make a difference in our lives. One way He does this is through His teaching of various parables.

Jesus tells a parable about the lost sheep in Luke 15:3-7. He has just been criticized by the Pharisee’s for socializing with sinners. This parable is a way for Jesus to illustrate His grace to a people who are blind to Him and why He came to earth.

It can be difficult for us to relate to the parables in the Bible, because our times are so different from back then. But Jesus used object lessons that were relevant to the people. They understood the value of their sheep, and the importance of being a good shepherd to the herd. They understood how easily sheep can be distracted and how they might choose to wander off. They also knew how dangerous it was for a sheep to wander off on its own, because of their defenseless nature. They can be attacked easily by other animals or can get caught in the thicket and not be able to untangle themselves. Without the protection of the shepherd, a sheep could end up hurt or even dead.

Jesus begins to tell the people the story of a straying sheep. He uses this example because He recognized the state of the people’s needs for a shepherd, He sees how very lost they are. Jesus has a heart to restore the lost. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Jesus asks those gathered around Him a question, He asks, if they had 100 sheep and ones wandered off wouldn’t they try to go find it? Wouldn’t they keep looking until they found it? He drew the people in, making them think about what they would do or maybe about what they have had to do in the past. Jesus wanted them to hear Him, as He wants us to hear Him.

He goes on to tell the how, of course, a shepherd would go search for the lost sheep. He explains the impact that finding the sheep would have on the shepherd’s heart. The shepherd would be filled with joy, a joy that he simply would not be able to contain. He would want to share his good news with his friends and his neighbors.

Jesus parable had a greater purpose, He wanted the people to recognize that they are lost as sinners. He wanted them to see their need for a Shepherd in their lives.  He wanted them to know their value in His heart. And how just as they would be so overjoyed to find a lost sheep, He told them that all of heaven rejoices when one sinner repents.

Jesus wanted the Pharisees, especially, to see that He was sitting with sinners and spending time talking with them to lead them to repentance. He cares about their bondage to sin. It is all about His grace. Jesus illustrated God’s grace in parables for the purpose of drawing men to Him.

Jesus’ heart is full of grace for both the lost and also for the believer who strays into sinful choices. His love is so great for us, He wants nothing more than to bring us to Him, or bring us back to Him.

Jesus’ love for us led Him to die on the cross. He sacrificed it all for us. Such a gracious heart is shown here. Every person is that important to Him. Can we even take in a portion of that love into our hearts? Can we live out of that kind of love in our lives?

Jesus wanted the people to be drawn in by His love. And He wanted the Pharisee’s, especially, to understand that their self-righteousness didn’t cut it with God. God is disgusted with self-righteousness. And the same is true in our lives when we live in self-righteousness, He is always disgusted by such an attitude. The Pharisee’s did not see their need to repent. They didn’t see their need for a Savior. They felt they were above that, they followed the laws. They followed the laws in a legalistic way and missed the truth of what God’s heart is like.

Jesus is demonstrating the heart of God and sharing His own personal mission. He is showing us too how we should be moved with compassion to reach the lost by sharing the hope we have in Christ. His mission should be our mission. Matthew 28:18-20 tells us, “Then Jesus came to them and said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus wants our lives to be sacrificial and our love to be sacrificial. He was willing to leave heaven behind to come to earth to fulfill God’s purpose. How are you moved to share the truth of God’s grace? Are their lessons in your own life that you can use to share with others about the reality of Jesus and His works of grace in your life?

Lord, help us to have tender hearts for those who do not know You. Lead us in wisdom to have words to share and truths to tell. Make each one of us available to be a servant at work in Your mission field. Help us to spread the message of Your amazing grace. Amen

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