Justin Tucker, Worship Pastor LHBC

 Luke 15:1-7
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

In 1989 a massive 8.2 earthquake leveled much of the country of Armenia and in a matter of four minutes 30,000 people lost their lives. In the midst of all of the devastation and chaos, a father left his wife at home and rushed to the school where his son was supposed to be, only to discover that his deepest fear had become a reality. His son’s school was flattened.The father remembered a promise he had made to his son: “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you!” Tears began to fill his eyes as he looked at the pile of debris that once was the school.  Iit looked hopeless, but he kept remembering his commitment to his son. He retraced his steps to where he walked his son to school each morning. Remembering his son’s classroom would be in the back right corner of the building, he rushed there and started digging through the rubble. As he was digging, other parents started to arrive. Clutching their chests and crying out for their sons and daughters. Other well-meaning parents tried pulling him off what was left of the school, saying things like: “It’s too late!” “They’re dead!” “You can’t help!”

To each parent, he responded with one line: “Are you going to help me now?” And then he proceeded to dig for his son, stone by stone. The fire chief showed up and tried to pull him off the school’s debris, saying, “Fires are breaking out, explosions are happening everywhere. You’re in danger. We’ll take care of it. Please go home.”  To which this loving, caring Armenian father asked, “Are you going to help me now?” The police came and said, “You’re angry, distraught, and it’s over. You’re endangering others. We’ll take care of it. Go home.”  No one helped. Courageously, he proceeded alone because he needed to know for himself: “Is my boy alive, or is he dead?” He dug for eight hours…12 hours…24, and 36 hours. Then, in the 38th hour, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He had found his son and 12 others. They were thirsty, hungry, and scared but they were rescued. Due to this father’s lack of disregard for his own safety or his disregard for what anyone else said or did,13 people were rescued that day. 

This is a true story of how far an imperfect, human father would go to save one of his children. How much farther would our perfect, Heavenly Father go to save His children? I’m glad you asked! The parable of the lost sheep answers that question. Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10) and He came to find the lost sheep – us. Luke 19:10 tells us that, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Jesus left the comfort and glory of Heaven and He went to the cross for each and every person. He chose to endure the pain, shame, and humiliation for you and me.  He gave himself up on the cross in the off-chance that we might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return. How amazing is that?!?! He was utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions with regards to His own safety, comfort, and well-being to rescue us. Jesus made a habit of intentionally reaching out to the one, the outcast, the black sheep. Remember the demon possessed man in Mark 5, or the woman at the well in John 4? Jesus intentionally sought people out to save them. We’ve been called to the same purpose. We have to leave the comfort and safety of our church walls and invest in the lives of others so that we can have the relational equity to speak the life and truth of The Gospel into people’s lives. It may come with the risk of ridicule or the risk of the loss of a relationship. It will never be easy, but it will always be worth it. Your risk may just be what someone else needs to experience the true meaning of The Gospel!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me in a way that I can never comprehend, in a way that I could never deserve. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to lay down His life so that we could know You and be in relationship with You. Help us to have eyes like Yours, to see people outside of our normal people groups as creations of Yours that You love deeply and sent Jesus to save. Help us to invest in others outside of our normal spheres of influence to gain the relational equity to have conversations that lead to life change. Thank you for Your grace and mercy, Lord. We love You. In Jesus name, amen.

1 John 3:18
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.