And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices more over that one sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
Luke 15., has the following suggestive passage. Each of the three parables "illustrates the fact that a more active interest in any possession is aroused by the very circumstance that it is lost. The sheep that is lost is not on that account disregarded by the shepherd, but receives for the time greater attention than those which remain in the fold. The piece of money that has gone amissing becomes on that very account of greater immediate importance to the woman than all she has safe in her jar in the cupboard. If one of a family turns out ill, it is a small mitigation that all the rest turn out well; it is after the lost the parent's heart persistently goes. So is it with God. The very circumstance that men have strayed from him evokes in him a more manifest and active solicitude in their behalf. The attitude of God and of Christ towards sinners is reduced to the great principle that anything which is lost and may be regained exercises our thought more, and calls out a more solicitous regard than a thing of equal value which rests securely in our possession."
I. MAN AS LOST. The word as applied to men is a figure. A lost sheep is one beyond the shepherd's control. A lost piece of money is one that has got out of the woman's reach. This suggests that a lost man is one who has got himself out of the Divine hands, and has taken the ordering of life into his own hands. As the sheep is the shepherd's; as the coin is the woman's; so man is God's. The sheep is lost through animal perversity; the coin is lost through accident; man is lost through moral wilfulness.
II. MAN AS RECOVERABLE. There would be no effort of shepherd, or woman, if they had no reasonable hope of regaining their lost things. And we may never conceive of men as lost in any sense that puts them beyond moral reach. There is a hardening through wilfulness; but we must never think of that save as a process. In the case of no brother-man may it be thought of as complete. The man beyond recovery does not exist.
III. MAN AS RECOVERED. That is the work of God in Christ; it is accomplished for the race, and it is an infinite joy to the Recoverer. That is the work of the Christ-man and of the Christian Church. They should prove what joy is found in saving the lost. - R.T.
If a man have an hundred sheep.1. The image under which it pleases God to describe His creatures upon earth, "Sheep" "gone astray."
2. What is said as to the dealings of God with His creatures under these circumstances, "seeketh," etc.
3. The feelings with which the Shepherd is described as regarding the sheep when found, "He rejoiceth more," etc.
4. The general deduction which our gracious Saviour draws from these several particulars "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."(1) What a conception does this text lead us to form of the character of God our Redeemer.(2) What an encouragement does the doctrine of the text supply as to our dealings with others.
(J. W. Cunningham.)I. WHO ARE THEY that are here described as persons lost, and what is meant by the expression? Our blessed Saviour means all who did not receive Him as the messenger and interpreter of the Divine will to mankind.
II. IN WHAT SENSE OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR IS HERE SAID TO HAVE COME TO SAVE MANKIND.(1) He came to instruct mankind in the true and the whole nature of the Divine will:(2) to show, in His own example, that human nature is capable of such a degree of perfection, as will make us fit objects of the Divine favour:(3) to make a satisfaction for us upon the cross, such as showed that God would not pardon the sins of men unless His justice was satisfied; and, therefore, Christ's suffering and death upon this account were a full and proper satisfaction made to the Divine justice for the sins of such as were till then lost to the benefits of eternal life.
III. How FAR SHOULD THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST, IN THIS PARTICULAR OF SAVING THAT WHICH WAS LOST, BE IMITATED BY US. The natural means, those of instruction and of example, which He made use of in His life-time for reforming mankind, and improving their morals, these are what we may copy after Him.
Expository Outlines.I. A NEEDFUL CAUTION. "Take heed that ye despise not," etc.
1. To despise them is fearfully dangerous.
2. The interest taken in them by the highest intelligences should prevent us from thinking lightly of them.
3. The high destiny which awaits them.
II. A BLESSED ANNOUNCEMENT. "For the Son of Man is come," etc.
1. The title assumed.
2. The act declared, not merely to improve, but to save.
3. The miserable objects regarded.
III. A FAMILIAR COMPARISON. "HOW think ye" (ver. 12). These words may be considered:
1. In their literal signification. The recovery of lost property is a principle of human nature.
2. In their spiritual allusion.
IV. AS ENCOURAGING INFERENCE. "Even so it is not the will of My Father," etc.
1. The harmony that existed between the mission of Christ and the purposes of the Eternal Father.
2. If it is not the, will of God that the most despised and insignificant believer should perish, their salvation is assured.
(Expository Outlines.)I. A PROOF AND STATEMENT OF THE SAVIOUR'S WORK AND ERRAND.
1. One feature of the mediatorial character is particularly displayed in the very name in which the Saviour is introduced to our attention, "the Son of Man."
2. These words point out the fact of the Saviour's incarnation, "The Son of Man is come."
3. This description of the object of His coming we may contrast with another, when He comes a second time into this our world.
II. VIEW THE SAVIOUR'S ERRAND AND WORK AS IT IS EXHIBITED TO US IN THAT FIGURATIVE ILLUSTRATION THAT FOLLOWS THE TEXT,
1. He represents the state of the guilty sinner whom He came into the world to save under the idea of a wandering sheep. Prone to wander.
2. The care and kindness of the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Manifests particular care over case of individual sinner.
3. Christ's search for the lost embraces all the means used for the salvation of sinners.
4. He carries back the sheep when He has found it. To prevent exposure to danger.
5. His joy.
III. THE GREAT PRINCIPLE OF THE DIVINE CONDUCT THAT IS DEVELOPED IN THE WORK TO WHICH WE HAVE TURNED YOUR ATTENTION, "It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven," etc.
1. The connection that is here obviously formed between the end in view, and the means for the accomplishment of that end.
2. In redemption the will of the Father and Son are equal.
3. The work of Christ was designed to accomplish that intention, and is efficacious to its accomplishment.
4. Magnify the fulness of Christ's work.
5. Have you learnt that your characters are that of lost sheep?
(R. H. Cooper.)I. He is the Shepherd of the flock.
II. His love is impartially shown to all who are in the fold.
III. The salvation of the least is worth all the efforts of the highest.
(J. Parker, D. D.)I. Let us notice THE CONSOLATION in His comparing them with sheep who have gone astray.
1. It reveals to us how dear every single soul is to the Lord.
2. He misses each sheep as soon as it is lost.
3. He will leave the ninety and nine on the mountains and hunt for only one that has gone astray.
4. He rejoices over the one that is found.
II. FOR WHAT DOES IT RENDER US RESPONSIBLE?
1. That we keep watch over those who are liable to go astray.
2. The shepherd-faithfulness of our Lord renders you responsible for compassion on the lost.
3. Also for active, zealous seeking and leading home all who are willing to be saved.
4. It requires us to rejoice over every one who lets himself be saved.
(T. Christlieb, D. D.)I. THE FIGURE OF THE ONE WANDERER
1. All men are Christ's sheep. All men are Christ's because He has created them. "We are His people and the sheep of His pasture."
2. The picture of the sheep as wandering, "which goeth astray." It pictures the process of wandering; not the result as accomplished. The sheep has gone astray, though when it set out on its journey it never thought of straying; more mischief is wrought from want of thought than by an evil will.
3. The progressive character of our wanderings from God. A man never gets to the end of the distance that separates between him and the Father if his face is turned away from God. Every moment the separation is increasing.
4. The contrast between the description given of the wandering sheep in our text and in St. Luke. Here it is represented as wandering, there it is represented as lost. God wants to possess us through our love; if He does not we are lost to Him.
II. THE PICTURE OF THE SEEKER. The incarnation of Christ was for the seeking of man.
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