EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)–A man working on an icy bridge fell 70 feet into the river. The current began moving the injured man downstream. Watching, a passing barge captain was faced with a life-or-death decision. Knowing the worker would freeze and drown if someone didn’t act, he dove into the frigid water and kept the man afloat until help arrived 30 minutes later.
When asked what motivated him to risk his life for someone he didn’t even know, Captain Brisson told reporters: “I have a family; I thought about that. But I thought about how life is very important. I’m a Christian man, and I couldn’t let anything happen to him.”
That day, Captain Brisson acted like Jesus. He disregarded his own personal comfort and was willing to give his life to save someone who would surely have perished without him. Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). There are three aspects of Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost which He revealed in three parables in Luke 15:
— Jesus counts the lost.
Jesus told the well-known parable of a shepherd who owned 100 sheep (Luke 15:3-7). When the shepherd discovered that one of his sheep was missing, he left the 99 secure and went back to find the lost one. The point is that every sheep is important. “The Lord is … not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).
One of everything is important to God — one sparrow (Matthew 10:29), one hair (Luke 12:7), and certainly everyone created in His image (John 10:14). God counts all of the six billion souls on earth and knows them by name. And Jesus came to save each one.
— Jesus cares for the lost.
Jesus’ second parable (Luke 15:8-10) was about a woman who had ten silver coins. While the first parable focused on counting, this parable focuses on the carefulness of the search. Jesus makes a special point of noting three things the woman did to find her lost coin: she lit a lamp, swept the house thoroughly and took great care in looking for it.
Just a cursory reading of the four gospels reveals the care and diligence which went into Jesus’ search for the lost He came to save. He had countless discussions, answered questions, performed miracles, endured ridicule and persecution. Jesus never gave up. How thankful we should be that Jesus searched until we were found.
— Jesus has compassion for the lost.
Luke 15:11-32 concerns a prodigal son: “But when [the prodigal son] was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (verse 20). The father had done everything right and the son had done everything wrong. Our tendency would have been to respond to the son with anger when he asked for forgiveness and a second chance.
How many years do most people spend in profligate living before they turn to God and ask for a chance to “come home?” How many has God ever refused?
When Jesus Christ came to earth to rescue the perishing, He counted, cared and had compassion — and still does today. If you are not yet “found,” it is not because Jesus has stopped looking for you. It is because you have turned and moved back into hiding whenever He has drawn near. I plead with you to come into the light and be carried tenderly into the fold of His sheep.
A pastor announced that a young boy named Crockett had given his heart to Jesus that week. One of Crockett’s four-year old buddies, hearing the good news, jumped up on the seat of his pew, thrust his fist into the air, and yelled, “Yeah, Crockett!”
Such is the unabashed joy in heaven when the lost are found: “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). I pray that if the angels in heaven have never shouted, “Yeah, (your name)!” that it might happen today.
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., and chancellor of San Diego Christian College. For more information on Turning Point, go to www.TurningPointOnline.org.