The Lost Stories of Jesus
Have you’ve heard of the lost stories of Jesus? They have been lost for two-thousand years. They’re not some top secret, conspiracy theory, half-baked, collection of pseudo historical teachings of the Christ. The lost stories of Jesus are three parables he told about lost things to illustrate the heart of God.
If you read Luke 15 you will see the immediate context of the lost stories of Jesus. The chapter begins with religious leaders who are upset that Jesus receives sinners and eats with them. So, Jesus tells them the stories of lost items beginning with a lost sheep, then a lost coin, and ending with a lost son.
The first two stories follow a similar pattern. Something is lost. There is a search. And there is great rejoicing when it is found. But the third story has a plot twist.
In the final lost story Jesus describes a son who rejects his father, squanders his inheritance, and comes to the end of himself sitting in a pig pen longing for the pigs’ food to fill his empty belly and for the father’s love to fill his empty heart.
But there is no search. No one comes looking for him. He sits there in the mud with only his guilt, shame, and regret to comfort him.
The reason Jesus left out the search in the third story is because he is responding to the religious leaders. When the rebellious boy finally returns home we discover that his older brother is angry. He’s not angry at his little brother who has embarrassed the family. He’s angry at their father.
He’s mad that the father has received the little brother and has thrown a party for him. He is angry that he is receiving sinners and eating with them. He is like the religious leaders.
In telling these stories Jesus is showing us several things about the love of God. We see that Jesus is not embarrassed to be associated with sinners, to receive them and eat with them. We see that he loves the lost. And we see that he hates this pretentious, self-righteous, smug attitude that belittles lost things, lost people, and presumes upon the love of God.
We see that Jesus is the better big brother, who has come to seek and save little brothers and sisters like you and me. We see that what the Father does for prodigals who come home is to clothe them and feed them. But the gospel is that God has done even more. He has loved the lost so much he sent his only son to rescue them.
That’s why the story of the prodigal son only takes us so far. The gospel takes us further up and further in. It shows us that like the sheep and the coin, there is a search for our souls. The missing element in the third story, the missing search, finds its counterpart in the words of Jesus, “I have come to seek and save the lost.”
All of this is really good news for sinners like you and me. As we approach Easter, let’s reflect on the lavish love of God that led to the cosmic search for wandering sheep like us. Let’s approach God’s throne of grace to receive mercy with great confidence because we are clothed in the goodness of Jesus.
So, let’s eat and remember his goodness. Let’s rejoice because God loves his children and he feeds his sheep. He finds the lost. He finds us.
He is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep of his pasture. Let’s look forward to that day when, along with all of the lost sheep who have been found, we will feast in the green pastures and still waters of his kingdom.