Jul 20, 2022
In today’s scripture, Jesus teaches the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Lost Coin. As Julie Jenkins leads this teaching, ask God to share His heart with yours. (Matthew 18:10-14, Luke 15:1-10)
Welcome to Walking in the Word – the biblical teaching arm of the Women World Leaders podcast. I’m your host, Julie Jenkins, and I am so glad that you have joined us.
This is episode 305 of the Women World Leaders podcast. We are coming up on our 2-year anniversary of bringing you new episodes 3 times a week. And we want to thank you – for loyally listening and sharing and contributing to Women World Leaders! When God first called us to develop the Women World Leaders podcast in 2020, we did so without hesitation, and we believe and pray that God has blessed many through both our and your efforts. If you are new or have been listening for a while, we would love to hear how Women World Leaders has impacted you. Connect with us on Facebook or our website, womenworldleaders.com, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to connect with you! We believe that all of God’s children are called for a specific purpose, and together, we can help each other as we walk in the gifting that God has given each of us.
On this, our Wednesday edition of the podcast, we take a few minutes to open God’s Word and study scripture verse by verse. We are currently walking through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John chronologically. Our study today is from Matthew 18:1—14 and Luke 15:1-10. Before we begin, let’s pray.
Father God – we thank you for this ministry and for this podcast. God, we love to come together to learn about you, encourage each other, and celebrate all that you are doing in our lives, in this ministry, and in our world. In the last two years, our world has continued to struggle, but you are clearly on the throne. Thank you for always giving us tools that lead and guide us into your presence – and Father, let us never take you or those tools for granted. We praise your name even as we work for you, give financially to further your reach in the world, and rely on you for everything we do. Be with us now as we open your Word together. Teach us what you want us to know and inspire us to live our lives to your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
As we study today, we see Jesus’ heart as it focuses on His search for His lost sons and daughters, as told in two different parables from two different gospel writers.
In recent weeks, we have been witnesses as the disciples learned that it takes a servant’s heart to be the greatest in the kingdom of God. Through Jesus’ teachings and illustrations, we have come to better understand the importance of ministering to those whom the world would consider the “least” in the kingdom – that is, children and new believers.
It is from this vantage that Matthew records Jesus’ launch into the parable of the lost sheep, warning the disciples in Matthew 18:10 from the New Living Translation:
10 “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father
Theologians disagree as to whether this verse means that each of God’s children has an individual guardian angel or whether it means that angels, in the general sense, look out after God’s children. Whatever your particular belief, it cannot be denied that God and His army of angels are constantly taking care of all of us.
I often wonder what my day would look like without the unseen angels around me doing their job. Would the car that narrowly missed me have hit me? Would I have breathed in germs that were floating my way instead of turning my head? Would I have missed getting that important message?
Thinking about the “what if’s” from this perspective can certainly anchor us in gratefulness for God’s care. Matthew goes on to share, in the parable of the lost sheep, just how much God DOES care for each of us.
Luke’s intro into the same parable is a bit different. Luke 15:15 says…
15 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! 3 So Jesus told them this story:
A different take – a different intro, isn’t it? Although the situation is a bit different, the teaching is the same. Luke tells us that Jesus is teaching the tax collectors, notorious sinners, AND the Pharisees and teachers of the religious law about His care and love for each individual.
I do want to take this opportunity to point out that someone who is intent on highlighting inconsistencies in the Bible could very well point to what we just looked at and say, the Bible is NOT without error. Two different gospel writers wrote about Jesus’ teaching of the same parable, giving two different scenarios in which the parable was shared. Does that mean that either Matthew or Luke was mistaken, and, therefore, the Bible is not infallible? Not without error?
Or could a simple explanation be that Jesus told the same parable more than one time?
I point this out because, as Christians, it is important to know what we believe. And stand for it. And as a Christian, I believe that the Bible IS without error. Anything that I don’t understand, or any error I think I see, comes from the limited understanding of my own mind. So, when I don’t understand a teaching or a seeming inconsistency in the Word, I ask God for wisdom to understand. Sometimes He whispers something simple, like “maybe I told the same story on two different occasions.” And sometimes, because I am not a great theologian, in fact, nine times out of ten, God’s answer to me is, “Don’t worry about it. Focus on the meaning of the scripture, not the minutiae.” But if you notice something that could be perceived as an error, you too should go to Him for guidance. He may actually be calling YOU to dig further…because we all have different giftings and purposes. My point is, don’t be afraid to ask God questions so that you can share with others where you stand.
Okay…all that is an aside…but an important aside. Let’s get back to the parable…which both gospel writers record very similarly!
4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
In this day and age, most of us aren’t too familiar with sheep and shepherds, so let’s dig into this.
Sheep are not the smartest animals. They like to wander. But they need to be taken care of – in fact, I’ve heard it said that sheep require more care than any other class of livestock. On top of care, a sheep, to live a full life, needs to be protected.
And yet sheep are valuable. So if a shepherd were to lose a sheep, his reputation would be in danger.
So Jesus’ listeners would have heartily agreed that the shepherd would do everything he could to go after that one, missing sheep.
Picture a vast field full of rolling hills, and shepherds with hundreds of sheep – shepherds often worked in teams. Each shepherd knew each of his sheep, and an attentive and caring shepherd would notice one missing out of the 100 he is caring for. So he leaves his other 99 sheep in a safe place with his fellow shepherds, and heads out across the hills, looking for the one endangered, and stupid, lost sheep.
And when at last he finds him, a celebration breaks out! The joyful shepherd doesn’t leave it to chance that the sheep will follow him back to the flock. Instead, he PICKS him up, puts him on his shoulders, and carries him home. In joy.
When they arrive, the shepherd announces his find, calling together his friends and celebrating again.
Jesus is our shepherd. We are the stupid sheep.
Whether we are little children, new believers, or stubborn Pharisees, we are all sinners – just stupid sheep.
We cannot exist on our own. We can’t take care of ourselves, we are in danger, and yet we, at different times in our journey, willingly wander from God – our shepherd. The only one who can guide us and protect us. But God doesn’t ever let us walk away. He knows when we’ve wandered, and He searches the hills and the valleys, looking under every bush and behind every rock until He finds us. And when He does, He rejoices – and picks us up and carries us home. On His shoulders.
And when He arrives home with us in tow, He calls everyone together to rejoice with Him.
And then the residents of heaven rejoice, too. Over one sheep. Because every sheep is valuable. Every sheep has a purpose. And every sheep is loved.
Luke records a 2nd parable…verse 8…
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
Who wouldn’t search for a coin? A silver coin was worth a day’s wages – certainly worth a good housecleaning to find.
But the silver coin may have had even more significance. It was customary for a Jewish woman, when she married, to wear a headband or chain with ten silver coins. So the coin may have been one of those ten – with far deeper meaning than a simple, though valuable, coin would carry.
I can remember one time losing a diamond out of my wedding ring. I was crushed! While I knew, in my head, that the diamond could be replaced, I held in my heart that the ring that symbolized the vows I made with my husband would never be the same. I searched high and low for that diamond!
Whether the coin that the woman searched for was meant to pay for food or symbolized her marriage is less important than the understanding that the coin was important.
So the woman searched, and she rejoiced when she found it!
We have all been created on purpose for a purpose. And our most important purpose is to be loved and to love God and others within His family.
God needs and wants you in His family! You belong! He will search every mountain and valley to find you and carry you home. He will light every lamp and clean every floor until He holds you in the palm of His hand.
And then He will rejoice! And His whole family will rejoice! And the angels will rejoice!
Matthew tells us that Jesus ended this particular teaching by saying in 18:14…
It is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.
Are you feeling “little”? Unimportant? Or are you feeling unworthy because of your own sin or the fact that you willingly wandered away?
Let me assure you, God still treasures you! He wants you to come home. And He will do anything to bring you to the celebration that He has prepared and waiting!
Dear Most Holy God! Thank you for being our Good Shepherd! Thank you for never giving up on us – no matter how many times we stubbornly wander. God, forgive us for our sins and wandering hearts. Forgive us for the judgments we hold about others and keep at arm’s length. Help us to reach out and welcome EVERYONE into the family that you have so lovingly and painstakingly prepared for our enjoyment. Give us your tenacity to search high and low for any missing sheep. Give us your strength to carry each one into the flock on our shoulders. And give us unselfish hearts, that we may REJOICE at each one’s return. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.