Bible Society of South Africa

Grace: Lost and found – 21 November 2022

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

6and carry it back home. Then you call your friends and neighbours together and say to them, ‘I am so happy I found my lost sheep. Let us celebrate!’ 7In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 respectable people who do not need to repent.

Luke 15:6-7GNBOpen in Bible reader

As long as we live on earth, there’ll always be something lost; it’s a symptom of our brokenness in a lost world that affects us daily, ranging from things that are relatively minor, to others of great significance. Wherever we are, we’re searching; for knowledge, status, self-esteem, a marriage partner, keys … Jesus knew all about this and used this basic experience to illustrate a number of parables.

In the parable of the Lost Sheep, He paints a picture of a flock, peacefully grazing in the lush pasture, but, one is missing; it’s wandered off and is lost. The owner leaves the ninety-nine grazing happily and goes in search of the lost one, “and when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” (Matthew 15:5)

Doesn’t it defy good sense for the shepherd to leave the many, vulnerable to predators, to look for one that is lost?

Not if the lost sheep was John Newton, captain of a slave ship; or Saul of Tarsus persecuting new Christians; and especially not if it were us – whatever we’re doing. Because that one lost sheep is as precious to him as the ninety-nine happily grazing, and, when He finds it, He’s overjoyed as he scoops it up and carries it home on his shoulders – like a parent finding an adored missing child.

John Newton, a defiant, profane young man, had survived many dangers but was lost to the lucrative world of slave trading, the callous capture of men, women and children from Africa, whom he transported in appalling conditions by slave ship, to sell in Europe, when Jesus found him.

During a fierce storm at sea, which washed some crew members overboard, John came to his senses and he cried out to God for mercy. God calmed the storm, but it took four weeks for the battered ship to finally reach Ireland.

John’s experience of God’s grace, mercy which he knew he knew he didn’t deserve, “saved the wretch” that he admitted he’d been, and transformed his life. Like the prodigal son, he “once was lost, but now was found”, and, like Paul, had been “blind but now could see”.

From then he on devoted his life to serving Christ.

John Newton wrote the hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’ from his personal experience, but it’s much loved by all who recognise its truth. Let’s check off the list ourselves.

What is our experience of God’s amazing grace?

Prayer: Gracious Shepherd, you love all your sheep. Thank you that “it is by (your) grace that (we) have been saved through faith… not the result of (our) own efforts.” (Ephesians 2:8) We “all have sinned and fall short of (your) glory and … are justified freely by (your) grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24) Amen

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