Who are the lost sheep?

Les Warriner is pastor at Living Way Foursquare Church.

Have you ever lost something valuable, then later found it?

A while back I misplaced my expensive, magnetic “clip-on” sunglasses and didn’t find them for more than a year, but I was pretty happy when I finally got them back.

That kind of thing is just an inconvenience, but sometimes what is lost is of incredible value and importance.

A couple of years ago, a young lady from Cloverdale went missing with her boyfriend and was located a few days later through an insta-bank camera. They were staying in a campground in Ontario. What relief and joy there would have been in that family.

In the gospels, Jesus talked about a shepherd, his flock and a lost sheep. This was one of Jesus’ parables. A parable is a true-to-life-story with a moral or lesson that sticks with you, not unlike Aesop’s fables – like the Fox and the Grapes or the Tortoise and the Hare.

But parables have penetrating spiritual meanings.

Jesus used the literary form of parables so that those who really care will come to know the truth.

Sheep-herding was a real life occupation in first century Palestine. A hundred sheep was a normal size flock and a count was taken nightly. But sheep are quite dumb animals and have a tendency to wander off, to go astray, and that is why they need a shepherd.

The shepherd was responsible for each sheep; if one was missing, the shepherd had to pay for it unless he could prove that it was killed by a predator.

This explains why he would leave the flock with the other shepherds, go and search for the missing animal. Because shepherds often traveled together, one could leave his flock with his companions without endangering them.

It’s almost a universal human characteristic to go after that which one loses. Incredible effort and resources go into search and rescue operations in B.C. on a regular basis.

But who are the lost that Jesus is referring to? They are sheep who have gone astray, lost sinners who have walked away from God. Some have been rescued, but many haven’t.

Just as a significant cost goes into the rescue operations to find a downed plane, a wayward snowboarder or a lost hiker, so it cost God an infinitely greater price in the sacrifice of his one and only son on the cross to pay for your sin and mine.

The Bible says that the wage of sin is death, but Jesus paid the price for all the lost sheep.

There are many people who are, in one sense or another, lost spiritually. Maybe they have known Christ, but are not now walking with Him.

Maybe they got burnt by the church or an unfortunate relationship. Who knows? God does, and He loves them.

There is also a high percentage of people in our communities and neighborhoods who have never heard the gospel message. They need Jesus.

If that pertains to you, find someone who can point you in the right direction.

Les Warriner is pastor at Living Way Foursquare Church.