Jesus came on a mission — a search and rescue mission. (Luke 19.10 ESV) says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The metanarrative of the Bible — the sweeping panoramic view of Scripture — is that we were created for community with God and with each other. However, that community was ripped apart by sin, and Jesus came to restore what was broken by reconciling us to God and to each other.
We were lost, adrift from God, and Jesus plunged into our world and offered Himself to bring us back. (1 Peter 3.18 NIV) says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” Jesus’ dream was that His people would live out that search and rescue mentality after He was gone.
Every healthy church has a search and rescue mentality. Every healthy community of believers is driven by the fact that there is someone tonight going to bed praying, “God, if you are real, send someone to help me!”
In Jesus’ day, He was confronted with religious people who claimed to love God but were indifferent and unconcerned about people. one day, to drive home the point that people matter to God, He blasted off three rapid-fire stories to teach them a powerful lesson. Take a moment to read these stories found in Luke 15.4-24. These accounts are breathtaking because they remind us how God sees people who are far from Him.
He sees every person as valuable.
In every story, something valuable is “lost.” The first story had a “lost” sheep. The second story had a “lost” coin. The last story had a “lost” son. In every story, something extremely valuable went missing!
What does this tell us? It tells us how God feels about every person. Every person matters to God. To put it another way, you have never laid eyes on a person who doesn’t matter to God. No matter the color of their skin, where they were raised, their education, their background, how good or bad they’ve been, how moral or immoral, how religious or irreligious — all people matter to God.
It also tells us that people are “lost.” We don’t like to think of ourselves or anyone else as spiritually “lost.” Many people think the term “lost” is outdated; even offensive. But this is the word Jesus used. While we are valuable in God’s eyes, apart from Christ, we are “lost.”
(Ephesians 2.12 NIV) says that “without Christ every one of us is without hope and without God in the world.” You know people just like that. They don’t know who they are. They don’t know where they are going. They don’t know how to be right with God. They are drifting far from God. That is how God sees you and me apart from Him. Priceless, but lost.
He sees every person as worth rescuing.
Another similarity in each of these stories is that an all-out search was launched to recover what was lost. The shepherd went searching. The woman started sweeping and moving furniture. The father stood on the front porch watching.
Jesus was saying: “While people you know are valuable to me and are distant from me, I’m on a search and rescue mission for them!” That’s the heart of God. Jesus came “to seek and save the lost,” (Luke 19.10 ESV). Jesus came for messed up people like you and me. (John 3.17 NIV) says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
He sees every person as worth celebrating.
In every case, when that which was lost was found, there was a huge celebration! The shepherd came back with his lost sheep draped over his shoulders, and he called his friends to celebrate. The woman, when she found her lost coin, called her friends over and said, “Celebrate with me, because my lost coin has been found.” After the father embraced his son, he told his servants to “‘bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate,” (Luke 15.23-24 ESV). Listen, when anyone comes to faith in Jesus, it is cause for celebration!
This is how God sees people far from Him, and this is how He wants His people to see the people around them… valuable, worthy of being rescued, worthy of celebrating!
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