Michael Youssef - Seeking the Lost, The Parables of Lost Sheep and Coin
Back in the summer of 1985, our son, Joshua, was almost seven years old. We were traveling in London, England at that time because I was speaking at a symposium. One day our host decided, we had a day break, to take us on a sightseeing trip, particularly our family. And so he took us to East London, and he dropped us off while he was going to look for a parking space for his car. Due to my negligence, I wanna emphasize this, due to my negligence, my oldest son got lost in the crowds.
Now, let me tell you by a way of explanation. Some of you might have been there, but I can tell you the feeling that you feel at that moment cannot be explained in words. You just cannot explain it. I mean, your mouth is so dry up, as if it's filled with sand. Your knees are shaking like jelly, and your heart is pounding like a machine that's ready to explode, and you're running around like a mad man saying, "Have you seen a seven year old boy? Have you seen a seven year old boy"? It was one of the most devastating experiences, to say the least. Especially, when I realize that it was my responsibility. All along, I'm condemning myself, and I'm beating myself up and thinking if I just held onto his hand, if I just grabbed onto him, if I just didn't get distracted, if I just kept my eye on him, all the while frantically searching every pub, every alley, praying like you have never prayed before.
Thankfully we found him. I don't wanna prolong this, but obviously we found him. But those 12 to 15 minutes felt like an eternity. But from that day back in 1985 to this day, I could never read the gospel of Luke chapter 15 without reliving at least part of that experience. Now beloved, every one of us were lost. Every one of us born lost, every one of us deliberately lost and wandered away at some point. Every one of us foolishly lost, we're lost. In fact, there may be someone in this room here today or watching around the world who might be lost now, and they know that God is reaching out to you. He's speaking to you through a friend, he's speaking to you through family members, he's speaking to you somehow, and you all know you are lost and he is waiting for you to come.
Please understand the good shepherd, Jesus, is looking for you. The good shepherd, Jesus, is waiting for you. The good shepherd, Jesus, is ready to place you on his shoulders. Now, Luke 15. These two parables or illustrations followed by a true story which we call the "Prodigal Son," it is so important even that just true story is gonna take us three different messages that we'll be expounding on that. By using these two parables, the lost sheep and the lost coin, Jesus is saying that God longs for sinners to repent of their sins, that God is searching for the lost sheep, that God is persistent in his compassion toward the lost, that God's salvation is not only for certain ethnic group.
In fact, the Greek word in the New Testament ta ethne, meaning every ethnic group, every nation, every tribe, the whole world belongs to Jesus. The whole world must repent and believe in Jesus. God has his arms wide open to whomsoever comes. Now, today we're gonna look closely at the second parable. Now, this is only three verses. Turn with me please to Luke chapter 15 verses 8 to 10. "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found the lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents".
My beloved, here in this parable of the lost coin, the search gets closer to home, it gets closer to home. The coin was not lost in the wilderness, the coin was not lost in the desert. The coin was not lost in the far country, it was lost in the house. And the coin, because it is lost in the house, there is a different environment than searching for the lost sheep. And I'm gonna explain that to you from my knowledge of history, and from my firsthand experience of the Middle East. I want to explain to you this parable because you will not understand it without that background, it's very important. In the times of Jesus, women wore a frontlet on the brow, on their brow called semede. This is the closest that I can get my hand on to show you what it looks like.
Now, there are ten coins in that semede, in that frontlet that they wore, ten coins. I guess this is where Hollywood got the perfect ten from. Now, these coins could be made of gold coins, silver coins, or just plain coins depending on the wealth of the husband to be, and his ability to give this to his fiancé. Now, you're getting closer to understanding why she panicked when one of these was missing, when one of these was lost, especially if her fiancé who gave her this is about to come for dinner. It would be like a man who gives, this is the engagement. This is the engagement ring of our day, as if a man gives a woman a diamond ring for to be engaged to his bride to be. And that diamond ring she's wearing, and he's about to come to dinner, and she discovered the diamond is missing.
Think about that. Or even worse, the whole ring is missing and got lost. Imagine with me please the panic when that happens. Imagine the anguish, imagine the consternation. "He's gonna be here in 30 minutes, and I don't have my ring. I can't find my ring". She frantically searches the entire house. As she turns the house upside down, she may even look in the kitchen sink, because that's actually where most rings are lost. I mean, she is frantic, why? Because to have a perfect ten coins on her brow represented her love for her husband to be. It represented her engagement to her beloved. It represented her fellowship with her husband to be. It represented her bond with that husband to be. It represented her affection for each other.
And that is why her loss was traumatic, it's traumatic. The feeling of panic is in the words of Jesus. There is a feeling of guilt perhaps. There is a feeling of remorse, of being careless, but there's more, actually, there's a whole lot more. Houses were very small, and they were very dark. There are no windows to speak of. The floor is a dirt floor, and there were so many corners and so many cracks in which the coin could sneak into and easily fall into. Therefore, a lamp, a lamp must be lit even at the noon hour. It doesn't matter 'cause it's so dark. And the sweeping must take place. The shifting of the dirt and the dust is a must.
The straw and looking through it is a necessity, going over the same area again and again and again, and not giving up in the search is very important. This makes that proverbial needle in the haystack to me much easier to find. But do you know what motivates her to keep on looking, to keep on looking and never give up? Do you know what motivates her to never give up the search? Do you know, some of you probably picked it up, do you know? Because the coin was lost in the house. Had she lost it in the river, she would've given up. Had she lost it in the desert or in the streets, she would not have persevered. Had she lost it in the fields, it would've been easy giving up about it.
But the reason she persisted is because she knows that she lost it in the house. Most likely she was condemning herself, "How stupid of me to lose this. Had I been careful, this would not have happened. What will I say to him? What will he say to me"? I have no problem with the true guilt of a sinner that will lead him or her to Christ and to salvation. There's nothing wrong, that's a good guilt. It's very biblical. But for the believer, false guilt is devastating. Can I get an amen? False guilt is not of God. Believers, when we are convicted of sin, we need to repent immediately and move on, confess and move forward.
Just think about this for this woman, think about her, okay. There is no effort that's too much. There is no search that is too difficult. There is no obstacle that is too great. There is no difficulty that is too insurmountable. One of the things that struck me this week as I'm looking into this afresh, with afresh eyes, listen to me. One of the things that really struck me hard in the times we live in today, there are so many preachers who are too careless with the Word of God. There are so many preachers who are too careless with the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are so many Christians who follow them because they preach self-serving message. And that is why there are so many people today who are lost in the pews.
There are so many people who are lost in the churches. There are so many people who are lost in God's house because of the carelessness of someone of us who are in the pulpits. And that is why you and I must spare no effort regardless of the cost in searching for those who are lost in our house, in God's house, no matter how long it takes. But there's something else I want to say to you, I don't want you to miss. Remember again, this woman lost her coin in the house.
So I wanna ask you, between you and God, wherever you might be, what have you lost in your house? Whatever it is, whatever it is, whatever you've lost in your house today, that can be changed today. It can be changed today, I tell you, on the authority of the Word of God, that can be changed today. You need to get up and light the candle of the Word of God. Get up and sweep your heart clean. Get up and examine your heart. Get up, find out where you have lost your first love for Jesus. Find out what has caused you loss of your love for your spouse. What sin has entered in and stayed in? What has caused the loss of love for your family? What has caused you the loss of your love for the family of God and the church of Jesus Christ?
Search diligently. I plead with you, search diligently. Search your attitude and your motives, search your misplaced priorities, search your misplaced focus and find out the root cause for your feeling of being victimized. The root cause. My challenge to every one of us today, that you need to shine the light of the Word of God, the light of the Word of God into your inner being. Let the searchlight of God go in. Sweep clean the cobwebs of self-centeredness. Sweep clean the dust of self-pity. Sweep clean the straw of bitterness and anger and envy and unforgiveness. Sweep clean the dust of diminished loyalty. Sweep clean all of the junk of unfaithfulness to the Lord in every area of your life. And I am appealing to you as your brother in Christ, not as your pastor. I'm appealing to you as your brother in Christ who is in the same journey with you, do not rest until you find that which you have lost in your house.
Make that phone call that you've been putting off. Make that painful visit you have been dreading. If you need to confess, confess. If you need to forgive, forgive. If you need to ask for forgiveness, ask for forgiveness. Do whatever it takes to find the joy of Christ. Do whatever it takes to find that lost passion for witnessing for Jesus Christ. Do whatever it takes to find that lost first love for Jesus. Do whatever it takes to find that lost desire to share Christ with others. Do whatever it takes to find that lost person in your home or in your church.
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus is telling us how individualized his search is. It's an individualized search. And in the parable of the lost coin, he's telling us how personalized the love of Christ is, can I get an amen? I am absolutely convinced that our Lord wants every one of us to know. I tell you that from the Word of God, not from my head. I believe with all my heart the Lord wants every one of us today to know that you are not just a name and a face in the crowd. As far as God is concerned, you're not just a name and you're not just a face. No and a million nos, he carries you individually on his shoulders as if you were the only person on the face of the earth. He focuses on you as if you were the only person in the whole universe.
And that is why he's the Almighty God, he's the all-powerful God, he's the all-knowing God, he is the all-seeing God, he's the all-knowing God, he's the all-loving God, amen. God's love for you, listen to me, God's love for you is not just in words. No, God's love for you is not a theory, it's not theoretical. God's love for you is not just an emotional feelings that he feel good about you when you do the right thing, and then he really can't stand you when you do the wrong thing or you blow it, no, no, no that is not God, that's us. God loves you, and his love for you and me is action, his love for us is constant, his love for us is sacrificial, it cost him everything.
Beloved, I don't know about you, I don't know about you, I find myself deeply challenged by these parables of our Lord. See, Jesus does not only individually search for every one of his children. You see, not only his search is individualized, individualized, but is personalized, it's personalized. Beloved, listen to me, you and I just cannot, cannot, cannot live for ourselves. You and I cannot, cannot turn a blind eye toward those who are lost, especially those in our house and those who are in the house of God. You and I cannot, cannot, cannot, just use some soothing words to describe the lost out of fear that we may be rejected.
Please, I would rather offend them initially and have them bless me in heaven for all of eternity than like me now, and then curse me in hell for all of eternity. What we individually and collectively need to do is to light the candle, light the candle. Beloved, that's why this church, we have held tenaciously onto the Word of God, the infallible, inspired Word of God. It's our only light, it's our only light, our lamp. Then lovingly and diligently go on searching, whether in the wilderness or under our noses.
One last thing I don't want you to miss in these two parables. Some of you already got this, I know that. The one thing in common in these two parables, when the sheep is found, when the lost sheep is found, there was rejoicing in heaven. When the lost coin was found, there was rejoicing in heaven. That's the common thing between those two. Some of you may have lost your joy, and you're asking yourself, could the reason be, and I'm just, look, I'm speculating, that's between you and God, this really has nothing to do with me. Could the reason be that you have placed your self-fulfillment ahead of your desire to see the lost be found? Could it be? Just could it be? Could it be that you have placed your personal ambitions above love for the lost? I pray that today God will rekindle your passion and my passion for the lost so that our joy may be found again.