Not one less
Matthew 18:11-14; Luke 15:3-7; BCBC/IOUC; 3/14/2021; Rev. Paul Wang
We should all be familiar with this scripture, right? We will look at the same problem from both Matthew and Luke’s perspectives: “Not one less”! This problem is related to the following points: the value of quantity and completeness, the difference of size and contentment, and the motivation of happiness and repentance, right? Let’s look at the first point:
The value of quantity and completeness
People usually focus on the number ninety-nine plus one when they read this passage, right? But what Jesus meant was value rather than quantity, do you agree? First of all, God cares about every sheep. Is God the God of a group or an individual? From a theological perspective, of course He is both. But from the perspective of each of our lives, God is first of all the God of everyone. That means, God can express complete love to everyone in the world one-on-one at the same time. In fact, we are witnessing or experiencing the power of God every day, do you agree? God created time and space, but he was not limited to time and space, right? No matter where we are or where we go, He will not ignore a lonely and humble you despite that there are as many as ninety-nine people already.
Second, God cares about a hundred sheep. People like to complain and compare in their hearts, right? To compare what? You see, our church has ninety-nine sheep, but your church has only one sheep. Or in other words, our church has 990 sheep, but your church has only ten sheep. Whatever the numbers are, the thinking is identical. However, God’s vision is to add up, ninety-nine plus one, God cares all the hundred sheep. It is not necessary for people to be proud of being one of the ninety-nine sheep, nor do they need to be inferior because of loneliness. The number of people is of course important, but whether our hearts fully belong to God is more important.
Finally, God looks for the lost sheep. For those who have been saved among the ninety-nine in the sheepfolds, they have already lived in the grace of the Lord. This is a bit like the relationship between the eldest son and the younger son in the story of the prodigal son who repented, right? These ninety-nine eldest sons, can you have pity for this poor young son? Can you take the heart of Jesus Christ as your heart and understand that the Lord’s heart is looking for the lost wanders away sheep? If you are a lost sheep, can you ask yourself: Am I the sheep that the Lord is looking for? Just ask your own heart, are you serious about the Lord? If so, come back to sheepfold as soon as possible! If not, why waste the resources of heaven? Just play in your world, right? Let’s look at the second point:
The difference of size and contentment
What is good in our minds when we are still living in this world? Solomon raised a question for life: what is the contentment of life? Jesus Christ is satisfied with salvation, what about you? Have you thought about this problem? What does the size of contentment depend on? First, God hopes all people to be saved. The Bible did not reveal God’s desire to save all people until Paul’s epistles. This person may perish, that person may be saved, this is of course the sovereignty of God’s omniscience. But Jesus’ wish is for all people to be saved. The so-called salvation of all people means that as many people as possible are saved. For this reason, on one should get lost! Although we do not know who will be saved and who cannot be saved, we do know that Christ’s intention is that none of those chosen by him should get lost! Are you willing to face the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ with your heart? Are you willing to become one of the ten thousand people in his heart?
Second, God does not want anyone to perish. We not only know that He wants everyone to be saved, but we also know that God does not want anyone to perish. Are you lost? It doesn’t matter, because you know the Lord’s will, right? Are you perishing? It doesn’t matter, because God doesn’t want you to perish! Don’t you turn around? You might say, I don’t trust God so much, how can I turn around? You do not say there are many such people! King Saul did not trust Jehovah so much, and he did not surrender the sovereignty of life to God until his death. don’t you remember? He would rather hand over the power of life and death to his enemy, Amalekites, than turn his focus on God. The same is true for Judah who sold the Lord, who would rather commit suicide than confess his sins to God and repent. They would rather perish than confess their sins to God, right? How about you, are you in the way of perishing? I looked at you struggling in the swampland where you can’t help yourself. This is your choice, this is your life, this is your ending, and even more so is your decision!
Lastly, God puts you on His shoulders. In the discipleship training last week, a sister shared that she felt that the footprints on the beach were her own. It seems that God has never paid attention to her, watching her encounter difficulties, experiencing despair, and even sinking into depravity, and ignore her! But when she reads the book of Jonah in the Bible, she saw that God looked after Jonah carefully, and God grew a leafy plant for Jonah, and sent a worm to chew the plant. He spoke with Jonah, allowing Jonah to lose temper and to have emotions. She finally knew that God had carried her on her shoulders all the time! What about you? Isn’t also God who raised up you and made you stand on the mountain, right? Let’s look at the third point:
The motivation of happiness and repentance
Have you ever thought that in God’s person, he also has his joy, anger, sorrow and happiness? The Bible says that Jesus cried, remember? Jesus was also angry and flogged the money-changing table. The Bible tells us in today’s scripture that Jesus Christ will rejoice and be happy. Why? First, Jesus Christ joyfully looked for the sheep that wandered off. This is something that many people don’t understand! We usually think of God’s salvation solely as an attribute of His love, or God’s justice. Today’s scripture tells us that He is happy for His great work of salvation. God’s attitude determines his height. We raise our children with a sad heart, as if the children owed their parents debts. How can there be a happy parent-child relationship? Children are a heritage from the Lord, and they are not owned by their parents, right? If you think too much, the joyful life is gone. Jesus Christ gave his life for you and me, and of course we are owed before God. However, Christ does not bind us because of our debts. why? Because He rejoices that He can lay down his life for us!
Second, Jesus Christ joyfully shares His salvation. The Lord Jesus not only went to the wilderness happily, he carried us back home on his shoulders. He also invited the neighbors to come to eat, saying, come, come and see the naughty kid I just brought back from the wilderness. He doesn’t dislike the smell of our whole body, sour and stinky because of our grapping pods for food in the pigsty. God puts on us new clothes, new shoes, new hats, and take off the ring from his hand and puts it on our hand. Are you willing to sit down with the Lord in the banquet and share his happiness? Do you also rejoice when you hear the testimony of brothers and sisters? Are you excited to hear that someone is saved? Are you crying? Rejoicing?
Lastly, Jesus Christ rejoices a sinner’s repentance. Now we have to deal with this difficult choice, that is, to leave the ninety-nine, and look for the lost one. To leave, in short, means to go away from. It even means to expose people to hardships and challenges. Imagine that a shepherd leaves his sheep in the wilderness, which is a real challenge. This is something we often experience, right? At this moment, we can ask ourselves, are we willing to go through the difficulties of the wilderness for the lost sheep? This is the heart of Jesus Christ. What is your attitude? He is rejoicing for the sheep that was lost and now is found! How about you? are you happy?
Dear brothers and sisters, God’s heart is “not one less”! What about you? In your life, whom have you not shared the gospel with? In God’s heart, where is the place the gospel has not been reached?
What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.