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The Parable of the Lost Sheep

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
April 2, 2021 8:00 am

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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April 2, 2021 8:00 am

If you grew up going to Sunday school class, you may remember singing a song that proclaimed, God’s got the whole world in His hands. Today on The Bible Study Hour, we’ll learn that those hands also hold each individual believer and that those who belong to God can never be snatched away. Listen in to learn how the parable of the lost sheep can give us a better understanding of salvation.

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If you grew up going to Sunday school. You may remember singing a song that proclaimed God's got the whole world in his hands today on the Bible study our will learn that those hands also hold each individual believer, and that those who belong to God can never be snatched away listening to learn how the parable of the lost sheep can give us a better understanding of salvation. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Bortz preparing you to think and act biblically. Let's turn to Matthew chapter 18 listening together. Dr. Boyce asks and answers the question.

Doesn't God have anything better to do than to search for lost sheep many images in the Bible that speak to us of God's protecting care of his people, but I suppose there's no image that is more greatly below, by the people of God image of pictures God is the shepherd caring for a shape which of course is why it appears in the Bible so often about an hour and 1/2 ago I was with their children as I am, Sunday morning and I was explaining a little bit about what we were going to talk about today and I asked them if they could think of any places in the Bible that talk about God as the shepherd and instantly lay bottom versus Psalm 23. For example, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

As I didn't think of another. Oh yes 110 I am the good shepherd good Shepherd gives his life with a shape closer. Probably the verses that come most frequently to our mind with images all through the Bible Isaiah when he was writing about God said he tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries him close to his heart. He gently leads those that have gone almost also said Psalm 100. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture on the image, occurs elsewhere in Matthew as well were studying chapter 18, but we've already seen it in the second chapter where Matthew quotes from Micah about the work of the Messiah. We know those verses they go like this, but you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Israel work out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.

Or again in chapter 9. Matthew wrote about Jesus compassion for the crowd saying because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Chapter 26 comes after this he reports Jesus is saying to the disciples, this very night you will all fall away on account of me for it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered varus rest of the New Testament goes, we read in Hebrews that Jesus is the great Shepherd. We read in first Peter that he is the chief Shepherd all the other shepherds are accountable, and so on.

It certainly a great way popular and frequently repeated image. Another notable thing about Jesus. Use of this in Matthew 18 is it here it's cast is a parable, parables were an important teaching device of our Lord, we find him throughout the Gospels.

We've already seen a number of them in Matthew 13 we have seven parables of the kingdom, and I chapter this is the first parable sentence going to be more before we're done seven more going to find them in the 20th chapter, the 21st chapter the 22nd chapter and then three of them altogether in chapter 25.

The point of the parable is that it's a story drawn from real life, from which a few at most usually just one great spiritual lesson is drawn is not like a fable fable doesn't involve a story from real life is imaginary in fables, animals talk to him objects speak and so on.

The best known fables are ESOPs fables were animals really act out the role of men and women.

A parable is an allegory either allegory almost everything stands for something else. Best known example of that is John Bunyan's Pilgrim's progress from CS Lewis's works are often allegorical. Now this is in fact this is a parable and it's making a single lesson exponent not only here in Matthew 18, but is also found in a parallel passage in Luke 15, verses three through seven, but the settings are different on the points are different.

Sometimes it's helpful to compare parallel passages and where help when we do that here in Luke, Jesus is addressing the teachers of the law they had been criticizing him because he was associated with known sinners as people that didn't live by their moral standards and Jesus was explaining asked to do that in order to reach them like a shepherd. The goes out to find the sheep that's lost that's his duty of 20 has to do doesn't hang around with those were already safely in the fold. Now in Matthew is not teaching or defending himself with the teachers of the law ice teaching his disciples asked question about greatness. The point he's making is that what they have to be is like a shepherd who goes out to find those who were lost talking about those who are weak, lost one as we please. Helpless. So if you want to be great you want to be like that good shepherd and go out to find the loss.

This fits in very well.

You say, with the whole flow of ideas.

In Matthew 18 ask at the very beginning of the chapter who is greatest in the kingdom and the first answer is a Jesus brings a little child forward in what's up in the midst, and said you want to be great you have to be great like this child because what is valuable in the kingdom of God is humility. As a child is humble at and then he begins to talk about that lost sheep and it's as if he's giving a second answer to that you want to be great in the kingdom you need to care about weak ones. Lost ones and in the final section of this chapter that will come to next week. Thoughts about forgiveness and he says if you want to be great in the kingdom of heaven.

You have to learn how to forgive people who wronged you, Harold blossoms, a member of the congregation is written.

Good but very short perceptive little book on Matthew and he traces that flow of thought. Just like this disciples they wish to be greater told that first they must accept and show kindness to other believers, facilitating their Christian walk and doing everything possible to avoid being a stumbling block to them.

Second, they are not to despise her show contempt for other believers, but our offer help to those who may be in danger of going astray or who may have gone astray. And thirdly, are taught what to do if one Christian sins against the mother of all that is a pattern of behavior that is entirely opposite to the way the world thinks the world thinks about greatness world thinks about greatness is getting to the top and it necessary to trample on other people. Jesus says the secret to greatness is to be like.

I am because I laid aside my glory in order to humble myself calm and seek and save the lost become by my death means by which sinners be forgiven. Now there's a first verse here we ought to think about, and it suggests a problem, at least for some people. Jesus is talking about newer week. Believers are still using the image of children. It's a bridge verse between what he was doing earlier when he brought the child and had them stand in the midst of what is going to talk about now. He says see that you do not look down on one of these little ones right tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my father in heaven. Let's reverse many people turn to for their idea of Guardian Angels, an idea which is intriguing but doesn't actually have much backing in Scripture I give you whatever evidence there is in Daniel, the archangel Michael appears as a protector of the Jewish people.

That is one angel for the whole race in Hebrews chapter 1 verse 14 is a reference to ministering spirits sent to serve those who inherit salvation in the book of Revelation of the first chapters you have the angels of the seven churches in Angel per each charge, but is not absolutely certain there whether those are references to spirit beings or maybe the messengers of the churches of the pastors something to be wrestled out in other ways, but the point is that none of those verses proves that every individual has a specific guardian angel assigned to him or her, but now if not, does this refer to them well.

BB Warfield had an interesting idea. He thought it referred to the spirits of little ones after death and that this is a reminder of their eternal security or guesstimate a problem with that intriguing as it may be, is that the verse here is talking about angels we don't become angels when we die. Think of something else. I think John Broadus probably has the best interpretation of this.

He says it really just refers to Christians as a class, however humble in the estimation of worldly man believers have angels as their attendance sent forth to serve God for their benefit in these angels of theirs enjoyed having the highest dignity and consideration like persons admitted to the very presence of a monarch and allowed, not once, but continually to behold his face. The point is that the angels in heaven have access to the presence of God on behalf of these little ones. God cares about them on the angels care about them. Jordan, you and I care about them as well.

Now, something angels are important in the passage of course they may be interceding on behalf of weaker wondering Christians. But what's really important. Here is a God is compared to a shepherd and he's a shepherd who seeks and finds the sheep parables is a number of important things about God just take you through it.

One by one. First of all, it tells us that God cares for us individually.

Will I see sheep in the meadow. I have to confess that all look alike to me. I can imagine how shepherd until one of them from another. We sometimes even use that as an image. People just like sheep without distinction. I just log off and raping her really can't tell, but I am told by people who know shape that not only did the shepherds know their shape no them individually, but the sheep know them so they recognize the voice of the shepherd.

They follow the voice of the shepherd, rather than following someone else Jesus was building on that when he told the people of his day.

John Tam I am the good shepherd.

I know my sheep and my sheep know me, just as the father knows me and I know the father and I lay down my life for the sheep. One proof that God does know his sheep individually is that he calls them to faith individually, and he does it by name. Some examples think of Matthew himself. First of all, were told, Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collectors booth said, follow me. Matthew got up and followed them. Matthew nine line. It was a lost sheep would been given to Jesus by the father. Jesus found him called his name individually and Matthew followed his mother.

Examples IKEA's.

It was a lost sheep. He was a little manic couldn't even see Jesus as Jesus passed by being hit by a big crowd so we climbed up a tree to see better.

We all know the story, Jesus got to the foot of the tree looked up there. He was perched in the branches. She said Zach ES come down because I have to stay in your house tonight and Zacchaeus came down in the found the master because the master had found him. It was the changing point in his life was an even more powerful example. On one occasion when Jesus came to Bethany, his good friends Mary and Martha had sent for him because he had a brother Lazarus and Lazarus was sick, Jesus didn't get back immediately and by the time he did get back Lazarus had died know the story, Jesus went to stood before and he called out Lazarus's name Lazarus, he said, come forth Lazarus mother one of his sheep heard that call of Jesus Christ by name and he came back from the grave. I think about Mary. Mary weeping in the garden after the crucifixion, actually after the resurrection, so she didn't know it. While she was there weeping in the garden, Jesus appeared she saw AMSI body must be the gardener. She didn't recognize who he was. When Jesus called her by name. He said Mary Jesus called that lost sheep by name, Mary recognize the call of the master and responded with bony which means teacher always that way. That's the way Jesus calls every single one of us. If you're a believer it's because Jesus Christ has called you by name and when you harden you turn from your sin in your own way and you began to follow Jesus kind of relationship God has with his people always got some abstract force out there is a person who knows us personally, individually, and who calls us by name. He knows you, even you, whoever you may be yes called you by name save you through the work of Christ. You can be sure he's going to exercise that same individual care of keeping you and preserving you the very and even if you wander away you may be one of the hundred was wandered away, but he's going to go out and find you until he brings you back. The second thing this image teaches. It teaches that God understands our weaknesses. I've never taken care of sheep even had anything to do with them and I hope I never have to accept. I have seen them in fields from time to time.

I've been told about the what I'm told about sheep is that they're just like Christians are very stupid creatures as they wander away very easily and have been brought to the best grazing lands I can have an abundant supply of water and somehow that we go through a fence and go off to an arid land where they would perish apart from the care the shepherd or by contrast taken me in that area and stay there because there creatures of habit and eat everything in pellets absolutely ruined as pastureland in many areas of the world have been ruined exactly that way by overpopulation of sheep, wonderful thing to say is that God knows where like that and he doesn't berate us for being stupid.

The Bible says as he knows how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust. We understand Cincinnati's patient with us is not a great thing to know your boss might not be patient with you, your parents might not be patient with you. God is patient with you because he knows what you're like to work with you. Just the way you are is 1/3 thing. Not only does God care for us individually and understand our weaknesses.

He also seeks us when we go astride. That's what's happening here.

Of course that's the question.

Doesn't God have anything better to do than hunt for lost sheep of the answer is apparently not as other things he does. Of course he runs the universe keeps the stars in their place makes the sunrise every morning to go down every night sends rain upon the just and the unjust alike. He lifts up kings in the lower zone. That's a fact that Nebuchadnezzar learned it was her better things as other things, the best thing God has to do, see confined while sheep is in the truth of the whole universe was created as a great stage upon which God was determined to act out the great drama of salvation must be the way because it says of Jesus, he was the Lamb slain from before the creation of the world. When Jesus came into the world.

He said the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost was. That's what it's all about. It's about the doctrine of salvation. It's about God seeking those who are perishing. If I may point out when it's all over heaven and earth passed away and there's a new heaven and a new earth going to find in heaven the angels, together with the redeemed Saints or they are praising God for that great act of redemption and their words are going to go like this worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise and to him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever. One more thing we gotta say about that and that is God seeks Aussie doesn't wait for us to see Because of the waited for us to seek and we never do it. Lamb ever wandered back.

God goes out to find the Lamb's text says God demonstrates his own love for us in lists that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us is 1/4 thing that we learn from the parable God rejoices when we repent and return to them.

Greeks had the idea that God can't have emotions, you know, because if he did wear the cause of those emotions, whatever they might be grief, anger, sorrow, love, or dismay, then that extent we have power over God and we could control it.

While it might make sense and philosophy, but is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that God does have emotions and he does rejoice over those who come back.

This is what the parable says he is happier about that one sheep it's found about the 99 that did not wonder off verse 13. Now there's a parallel here in Luke as I pointed out in the 15th chapter of Luke that contains the same story is a collection of stories that talk about one or something that is found with three stories there. The first is the parable of the lost sheep was parallel to what we are studying the second parable is about a lost coin found by a woman and last, best known as the story of the prodigal son was lost squandered his inheritance on while living but at last he came to his senses that I go back to my father has to be one of his hired servants. And when he started back he found that the father was waiting for him to call me been yearning for him to return all along was the love of the father. Eventually the druid what were told us that the father ran to him. He threw his arms around him and kissed him and then he said that the service quick bring the best robe and put it on and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet bring the fatted calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate because this son of mine was dead and is alive again.

He was lost and is found. Never think you come back to God. After months or years of wondering that somehow you're going to find God reproachful going to find them angry or vindictive or distance everything God is done is done for your salvation you come back no one in all the universe is going to be happier about it than God Almighty and his son to die that you might be saved. God rejoices when the law sheep are found there's one more point of 51 God's pursuit of the lost is effective.

My suppose if all we're thinking about we think about 15 as the parable of the prodigal son that that might be possible that the product old never did read cover to senses never did come home though that's not the point about the point of it. Of course, is that the father is rejoicing at the return of the point is such when God seeks loss are found, God is seeking you know you will be found and if you have been found it's because he sought you this is what he means in Matthew Matthew Jesus as your father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost in the course they aren't lost father six them until he finds them and brings them home. Remember that in Matthew, Jesus is talking about newer week believers. These are the little ones who are in view throughout the whole chapter so this is in teaching that all persons are going to be safe. The doctrine of Universalism's teaching is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints that Mark even one of those little ones that have been given to Jesus by God the father will be lost.

Jesus taught it in John 10 he was using the same image was teaching how those sordid sheep. His voice follow him and then he says this like given them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand. My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all the no one can snatch them out of my father's hand I am the father are one very strong statement about our security and God I call it clenching the nails. You know sometimes send rough carpentry carpenter will drive a couple nails through two boards to hold them together protrude out the back and then he'll take a hammer and then the points over embedding them in the woods called clenching the nails is what Jesus is doing here. Listen, I given to them eternal like that's the first nail and then he bends over and puts it in there. They shall never perish. That's the clinch when he does all over again.

No one can snatch them out of my hand.

That's the second male that my father who was given them to me, is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of my father's hand. That's the second clinch. It's hard to imagine how anybody could be more secure than that held in the hand of Jesus held in the hand of God you take that image and hold it in your mind. Remember that while God the father and God the son are holding you they still have two hands free for your defense.

I want to go back to the story of the prodigal son because one part of it is a picture of what we wrongly do course, is what the disciples were wrongly doing it's a contrast to what Jesus was urging when he said in the chapter were studying. See that you do not look down on one of these little ones are told in the story of the prodigal son is of the was another son was the older son he had done all the right things. He was out in the field when his brother came back and when he came home from working a herd all the rejoicing and he asked what it was. He was told that his brother had returned and he got angry and refused to go in. His father came out to find out what was wrong and he explained all these years I've been slaving for you and you never disobeyed your orders yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.

And when the son of yours who squandered your property with prostitutes come home you kill the fatted calf for Kim. Sadly, many of us find it easy to identify without older son. The reason we do. Of course, is that we imagine that were like it were not like the prodigal that went out and wasted things we've been faithful we been hard-working we've been diligent were not actually or we are. It's only because God is already sought us probably the case every one of our lives. We've often wandered away and brought back by God's grace through Jesus we ask what were the disciples thinking about when Jesus told them the story about the lost sheep. We know the answer to that. We been studying.

They were thinking about which of them would be greatest in heaven as they were among the 99 were safe on the hill. I wanted to know which one would be top sheep were thinking about the lost one of all, as long as we were thinking about being most important, they would never be concern for the one was lost and they would never do anything actually to help reach out to find him or her know where this is, ask who will be greatest.

It's the one who is most like the shepherd who gave himself for us. We to be like children.

Yes, like the shepherd to and we are never more like God than when we exert ourselves to help others. God rejoices over the one with been brought home certainly going to rejoice over the one who helps to bring that lost soul home as well is going to rejoice over you it's prayer. Father, we thank you for this parable, which is so many of these parables are as clear speaks to us about these most important relationships shows us what you are like and what we should be like to father forgive us for fighting over being great teachers. By the example and power of Christ to be like Jesus and actually reach out to bring others to know him to Jesus and you are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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