Sermon #112                                                 Luke Sermons


     Title:          The Parable of the Lost Sheep

     Text:          Luke 15:3-7

     Subject:     Christ Saving His Sheep

     Date:         Sunday Evening—December 14, 2003

     Tape #       X-92b

     Readings:   Rex Bartley & Ron Wood



(Luke 15:1-7)  "Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. {2} And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. {3} And he spake this parable unto them, saying, {4} What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? {5} And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. {6} And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. {7} I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."


We have before us The Parable of the Lost Sheep. The lessons which could be legitimately drawn from this parable are numerous. But we must not use our Lord’s parables to make them teach just anything we want them to teach, so long as it is doctrinally sound. We must seek to understand what the parable is intended to teach and use it for that purpose. Let me give you three or four words of instruction which will help you to interpret the parables of Scripture correctly.


1.      Do not endeavor to build any doctrine upon the Parables.


Our Lord’s parables are illustrations and pictures of divine truth, not expositions of truth. And there is a difference. We build our doctrine upon the plain statements of Holy Scripture. Then we interpret the parables in the light of that which we know is true. For example: We know from the plainest possible statements of Holy Scripture that in the strict sense there is no such thing as “just persons, which need no repentance” (Compare Ecclesiastes 7:20 and Romans 3:9-23).


2.      Remember that the Parables are stories, illustrations of gospel truth.


They may or may not be actual events which took place. They are earthly stories that illustrate heavenly truths.


3.      Each Parable is designed and intended to illustrate one specific gospel truth.


I know that different parts of a parable may serve to illustrate different truths. But the parable taken as a whole is one story, illustrating one truth. It is not needful that everything in the parable precisely fit the purpose for which the parable was given.


4.      The best way to determine what truth a parable illustrates is by studying it within the context in which it is given.


The parable of the Ten Virgins teaches the need for watchful perseverance. It would be wrong to use that parable to preach on the moral virtue of virginity, even though virginity is a moral virtue we highly value and encourage. The parable of The Laborers in Matthew 20 teaches the sovereignty and the freeness of divine grace. It would be wrong to use that parable to preach on the moral value or the moral evil of organized labor, though it might easily be bent in either direction.


Proposition: This parable of the Lost Sheep is recorded to illustrate one thing – It shows us the deep, self-sacrificing love of the Lord Jesus Christ for perishing sinners. It opens the very heart of the eternal God to us, and shows us how pleasurable it is to him to save sinners, because “He delighteth in mercy.”


The Savior’s audience was a strange looking congregation (v. 1). It was an assembly of irreverent, disreputable riffraff, made up of poor beggars, harlots, publicans, and sinners.


The scandalous accusation with which the Pharisees hoped to discredit our Lord gives us the key with which to unlock the parable (v. 2).


(1.)         They accused the Lord Jesus Christ of loving the company of publicans and sinners, receiving them and eating with them!


These Pharisees would have nothing to do with such filthy trash. They pointed their fingers at Christ and said, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them!” I am so happy to tell you that it was a truthful charge. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Friend of sinners.


(2.)         This parable was addressed to these self-righteous Pharisees (v. 3).


(Luke 15:3)  "And he spake this parable unto them."


They are the “ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” They thought they were good, righteous men. They needed no Savior. They wanted no grace. So in this parable, our Lord says to them, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18:11). “They that are whole need not a physician: but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Lk. 5:31-32).


As you know, Matthew gives us a slightly different version of this same parable (Matt. 18:10-14). There are obvious differences between the two accounts. But they contradict one another at all. Matthew simply was not inspired to write out the entire parable, and for obvious reasons:


1.    As Luke records it, the parable was originally spoken by our Lord to condemn self-righteous Pharisees – “The ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:1-3).

2.    Matthew’s record shows our Lord using the same parable to comfort his saints and to teach us to tenderly regard his elect, even as he does.

3.    In both places, the object is to assure us that Christ has come to save sinners, to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 5:31-32).


Here is Matthew’s account.


(Mat 18:10-14)  "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. {11} For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. {12} How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? {13} And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. {14} Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."


Divisions: Let me call your attention to five things in this parable.


1.    The Shepherd.

2.    The Sheep.

3.    The Search.

4.    The Salvation.

5.    The Satisfaction.


I.       First, I want to talk to you about The Shepherd.


In this parable, the Lord Jesus portrays himself as a Shepherd. He is not a hireling-Shepherd, who cares not for the sheep. He is our owner-Shepherd. He is one who both owns and cares for his sheep.


Illustration: Picture a Shepherd – That is what Christ is!


A.   One of the most beautiful and most frequently used descriptions of Christ is that of A Shepherd.


·       The Lord is my Shepherd!


A shepherd is a man who tends and serves sheep. He knows sheep. He knows how to lead them, where to feed them, how to protect them, and how to nurse them. He leads them out in the morning, tends them all through the day, and folds them when the day is done. Throughout the Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of as The Shepherd of his sheep.


1.    He is Jehovah’s Shepherd, smitten by the sword of divine justice, so that his sheep might go free and be saved (Zech. 13:7-9; John 18:7-9).

2.    Christ is The Good Shepherd, who willingly, voluntarily laid down his life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15).

3.    He is The Great Shepherd, who rose in triumph and victory from the dead (Heb. 13:20).

4.    He is The Chief Shepherd, who shall soon appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation (1 Pet. 5:4).

5.    Christ is The Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls, who saves us and preserves us unto life everlasting (1 Pet. 2:25).

6.    The Lord Jesus is Our Covenant Shepherd, under whose care we have peace (Ezek. 34:22-25).

7.    He is The Shepherd Of The Sheep, who gathers his little lambs in his arms and carries them in his bosom (Isa. 40:11).


B.   Christ is the Shepherd; and all the sheep belong to him. We are his sheep…


·       By Covenant Agreement (John 6:39).

·       By Lawful Purchase (1 Pet. 1:18).


C.   Now, get this – The Lord Jesus Christ knows his sheep (John 10:14).


He knows his sheep with a peculiar knowledge of love and grace. He knows all about us. But there is more. He knows us! He shall say to the wicked – “I never knew you.” But he says, “I know my sheep!He knows


·       Who they are.

·       Where they are.

·       What they have been.

·       What he will make of them.

·       What they need.

·       How to protect them.

·       How to bring them home.


II.    Now, second, let me talk to you about The Sheep.


I am sure Benjamin Keach is correct in the analysis he gives of this parable. Mr. Keach said…


·       The One Hundred represent all mankind in Adam – All belong to Christ!

·       The Ninety and Nine represent the self-righteous. The Pharisees of this world, who are just and righteous in their own eyes, and having no need of repentance, are left to perish in the wilderness of their ignorance.

·       The One Lost Sheep represents all of God’s elect in this world who are brought by Divine grace to see their lost and ruined condition. ― “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”


God’s people in this world are set forth as silly, lost, helpless, ignorant sheep. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (Isa. 53:6).


A.   We were all lost by the fall of our father Adam – (Rom. 3:12).

B.   We went astray as soon as we were born speaking lies – (Ps. 58:3).

C.   If left to themselves, the sheep would surely perish.


Silly sheep have no sense of direction. They roam and wander, straying further and further from home, until the Shepherd finds them.


III. Third,, this parable particularly emphasizes The Search for the sheep.


The Shepherd leaves the ninety and nine in the wilderness and goes out to search for his one lost sheep. His search will continue until he finds that one lost sheep. He knows the sheep that is missing. He has a picture of it in his mind. He thinks nothing of the ninety and nine who need no Shepherd. His heart is all wrapped up in that one lost sheep. This one thought seems to possess his entire Being: “One of my sheep is lost.” Immediately the search begins.


A.  It is an all-absorbing search.


That one lost sheep consumes the Shepherd’s tender heart. He can neither eat nor sleep until he finds that lost sheep. The poor, wandering sheep has no thought for the Shepherd. But the Shepherd seems to think of nothing else but that one lost sheep.


1.    He loves that sheep, and he cannot bear the thought of it being lost.


·       He knows all the pits into which the sheep might fall, and all the wolves that are thirsty for the sheep’s blood.

·       He knows that the poor sheep is both defenseless and senseless.


2.    That sheep belongs to the Shepherd.He purchased it with his own precious blood; and he will not lose it.


3.    The Shepherd is responsible for that sheep. – His honor as a Shepherd is bound up in the welfare of that sheep.


B.   It is a definite search. ― The Shepherd goes after his sheep, that one, definite, particular sheep –


Illustration: Goats in Jamaica


C.   It is an active search. ― No hill is too difficult to climb. No mountain is too high. No valley is to low. No precipice is too rocky. No distance is too far. The Shepherd must have his sheep.


D.  It is a persevering search. ― He will search for that lost sheep “until he find it.”


E.   It is a personal search. ― It is Christ himself who goes after the sheep.


Spurgeon said, “It is glorious to think of him still personally tracking sinners, who, though they fly from him with a desperateness of folly, yet are still pursued by him – Pursued by the Son of God, by the Eternal Lover of men – pursued by him until he finds them.”


F.    It is a successful search.


I know that all men will not be saved. Not everyone who hears the gospel will believe. It may be that many whom I love and for whom I labor with a heavy heart will perish at last. But of this one thing you may be sure – Not one of Christ’s sheep shall ever perish. Not one of those lost ones for whom he suffered and died will be lost in the end – (John 10:16).


(John 10:16)  "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."


IV.           Now, fourth, I want you to get a picture of The Salvation mentioned in the parable – “When he hath found it” (v. 5).


One of the old writers said, “In his incarnation Christ came after his lost sheep. In his life he continued to seek it. In his death he laid it upon his shoulders. In his resurrection he bore it on its way. And in ascension he brought it home rejoicing.”


Picture that lost sheep – He has fallen over the edge of a high cliff on a dark stormy night. Overhead, he sees the terrifying storm of God’s wrath. The lightening seems to strike out at him, saying, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Below, he sees the gaping jaws of hell opened wide to engulf him. He is losing his footing, slipping into hell – But the Shepherd has found his sheep. What does he do?


A.   He reaches down the long arm of his almighty grace, and lays hold of the sheep(Eph. 2:1-4, 8-9).


(Eph 2:1-4)  "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: {2} Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: {3} Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. {4} But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,"


(Eph 2:8-9)  "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast."


“I was sinking deep in sin,

Far from the peaceful shore;

Very deeply stained within,

Sinking to rise no more:

But the Master of the sea

Heard my despairing cry,

From the waters lifted me,

Now save am I!

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!

When nothing else could help –

Love lifted me!”


B.  He laid his sheep upon his shoulders.


1.    This is a place of rest for the sheep.

2.    This is a place of security for the sheep – (John 10:28-29; Deut. 1:30-31).


(John 10:28-29)  "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. {29} My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."


(Deu 1:30-31)  "The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; {31} And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place."


(Mat 18:14)  "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."


V.  Now, fifth, I want you to see The Satisfaction of both the Shepherd and the Sheep – (vv. 5-7).


(Luke 15:5-7)  "And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. {6} And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. {7} I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."


This man who had lost his sheep is filled with joy in finding it. And the sheep is the sole source of his joy! His soul, his heart, his mind, his body had all been absorbed in finding the sheep that was lost. Now he finds great joy and satisfaction in that sheep which he has found.


A.   The shepherd is satisfied(Isa. 53:11).


(Isa 53:11)  "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities."


·       It was for this joy that he endured the cross.


B.   The sheep is satisfied(Ps. 65:4). ― “All that thrills my soul is Jesus!”


(Psa 65:4)  "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple."




1.    Picture the Shepherd


·       In His Search.

·       In His Saving Mercy.

·       In His Soul’s Satisfaction.


2.    Now learn this – “He delighteth in mercy!”


There is a holiday in heaven over one sinner who repents (v. 7).


(Luke 15:7)  "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."


3.    Children of God, as Christ gave himself to save you – Give yourselves to serve him. As we have filled his heart, may he now fill our hearts.