Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Different kinds of lost

IF YOU WERE asked to point to one chapter in the Bible that sums up the gospel, which would you choose? For many, it would be Luke 15, which some commentators have called the gospel within the Gospel.

In it, Jesus tells three famous stories: the lost sheep, the woman searching for the lost coin, and the Prodigal Son. These familiar stories encapsulate Jesus’s mission, which He describes later when He tells the Pharisees that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

Hidden in Luke 15 is a picture of just how all-encompassing that mission is—because  there are different kinds of lost.

Take the lost sheep. Sheep are pretty docile creatures, but they can also be pretty dumb. This one of the 100 seems to have been happily following its nose, munching away on the grass, only to look up after a while and wonder where everyone else was and how it had ended up where it was.

Some of us are like that. Maybe we’re following a career or a lifestyle or a passion. We’ve been so busy with our heads down, doing what it takes to “get there,” that when we arrive we look up and realize we actually don’t know where we are anymore.

Then there’s coin, which didn’t lose itself. It didn’t jump out of the women’s purse. No, it ended up rolling out of sight because of her carelessness.

Some of us are like that. We have been wounded by someone’s words and actions, and that has caused us to roll away into “hiding” where no one can find us—but we discover it’s a lonely place.

And then there’s the prodigal who wants to live life to the max. It’s a full-on party until the money runs out and the good-time friends fade away. Though he’s from a culture in which pigs were to be avoided because they were unclean, he’s so desperate he gets a job in a pigsty and even wants to chew on some of the slop.

Some of us are like that. We’ve run so hard and so far from home that we find ourselves contemplating or doing things we never dreamed we would.

But the good news is that, whatever kind of lost we are, Jesus came to seek and save us. Yes, the gospel involves repentance for our sins, but it’s not that that makes us right with God. It’s Jesus’ sacrifice that does that—our confession of our need for Him simply accesses His forgiveness.

If you’ve wandered yourself, like the sheep, then Jesus is the Savior who comes to rescue you. If you’ve rolled into hiding, like the coin, then Jesus is the Savior who comes to redeem you. If you have waywarded yourself lost, Jesus is the Savior who comes to restore you.

No one can be so lost that they are beyond Jesus finding them.

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