The world population is 7.7 billion people. Google is the most used search engine on the internet, handling 5.4 billion searches each day. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is the richest person in the world at $131 billion dollars. The U.S. national debt is $22 trillion dollars, $66,000 per citizen. You have 30 trillion cells in your body. There are estimated 10 billion galaxies in the universe comprising a total of as many as 1 billion trillion stars. Those are some big numbers.
But in Luke 15, Jesus tells us that Heaven is impressed with ONE. “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10). It is good for us to focus on ONE because Jesus did.
In Luke 15, Jesus told three stories back to back to back to impress the value of ONE. One lost sheep. One lost coin. One lost son.
A man had 100 sheep and ONE was lost. So he searched until he found it and had a celebration. A woman had 10 coins and lost ONE. So she searched her house until she found it and had a celebration. A man had 2 sons and the younger ONE ran away. The older brother failed to go search for him. But when the younger son returned, they had a celebration. But the older boy was angry.
We will discover what they all had in common and how it encourages us to look for ONE.
The sheep was lost because it is its nature to wander. The coin was lost due to the negligence of someone else. The son was lost because of his rebellion.
All are lost today. The Bible tells us that ‘there is none righteous; no not one’ – ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ If we think we haven’t sinned, we’re a liar. If we think we don’t sin, we make God a liar because He said we all sin.
Some are lost in the wilderness. Some are lost in the house. Some were in the house and are now lost far away from the house. Some people don’t know anything about God. They are in a spiritual wilderness. Some have a connection with church but no connection with God. They are lost in the house. Some have left and are lost from God.
Some things you lost and you don’t go looking for. Why? Because it has no value to you. But the greater the value, the longer and more intense the search. You can tell the value by what it cost the ‘owner’ to search. The shepherd left 99 and searched the wilderness until he found his lost sheep. The woman lit a candle, swept the house, and searched diligently until she found it. The father sacrificed his finances, dignity and reputation to allow his son to leave and displayed patience during his absence. Each lost item was valuable.
3 – All need someone to search for them.
The sheep had his shepherd. The coin had his lady owner. But what about the son? This has always bothered me. Why didn’t the father go search for his son? I would have. I think this issue is one of the main reasons Jesus told these parables together. He told these parables in response to the criticism of Jesus receiving sinners. Then he ended with the attitude of the older brother. It was the older brother who had the responsibility to go rescue his lost brother, but he refused. I don’t know why he didn’t. Maybe he felt it was his brother’s fault. Maybe he didn’t want to be inconvenienced. Maybe he had things to do. Regardless, he did not search for his brother.
Let’s make the application to us. Whose duty is it to search for the spiritually lost? It is those of us who are in right relationship with God. Rather than criticize the sinfulness of our world, shouldn’t we attempt to rescue sinners and bring them home. One of the biggest barriers of people coming to God is their perception of the family of God. The following has been attributed to Gandhi: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Along with being lost the one common part of this story, the one the story spends more time explaining, is the joy of finding what was lost. Each called their friends to celebrate. Each celebration was contagious. In the first two, the celebration was compared to the joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents. In fact, there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one who comes to God.
We all celebrate when we find lost valuables. Our response reveals our values. Our celebration demonstrates to all who watch that we found something of significance, something we treasure, something we love. Celebration is so natural that a lack of it indicates something is wrong.
There is no greater joy on earth than to be part of the celebration of one lost person who comes to Jesus. Jesus left no doubt. When the lost are found, celebration occurs in heaven. What happens on earth must mirror the heavenly party in spirit and joy.
Why should we have a search and rescue for those who are lost from God? Because they are lost. Because they are valuable. Because they need someone to search for them and lead them back to God. Because it will create a joy that is unlike any joy this world can manufacture.
The value of ONE. When ONE girl said Yes to God, she altered the future for every single person that lived and would ever live. Even though she was ONE person, Mary, the mother of Jesus, changed the world.
One teacher may not change a school system. But that ONE teacher could influence ONE child, who could then make an impact on other peoples’ lives. Before long, that ONE teacher could influence thousands of people through the ONE child he or she taught.
A great example of every human’s importance is in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. If the main character had not lived, then his brother might have died. If the brother had died, then he would not have enlisted in the military and hundreds of soldiers could have died. Because the main character made a big difference in the life of one man, the positive effect of this decision was felt by many.
One Bible passage reminds me of the impact of ONE. In Luke 3 we read about John the Baptist: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar . . . the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. . . . As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Luke 3:1-4).
John the Baptist would later have a group of disciples who followed him. But when he began his ministry, he began alone. Just him. Just ONE. Think of it: John prepared the way for Jesus, but who prepared the way for John? No ONE. John began as ONE solitary voice to the Jewish nation.
Who is your ONE that needs to be brought to Christ? Will you be ONE to bring them to Jesus?