Lostness and Foundness in Luke 15:1-10



[The Gospel lesson for September 14-15, 2019, is Luke 15:1-10.]

Doubtless, you have lost something important to you at one time or another. There are things that are valuable like a key fob, a custom set of glasses or hearing aids, or even a cell phone or tablet.

Some lost or stolen items are irreplaceable, such as the diamond in an engagement ring, a piece of jewelry given by a beloved grandparent, or the vehicle purchased for you by a deceased parent. The value of the item may or may not be large by the world’s standards, but the loss of an item attached to a cherished relationship is beyond any price tag. When the item is gone, that link to a dear one is lost.

Most adults remember that first love that stole our heart. Having been smitten with love and known its sweetness, a subsequent breakup is often our first death experience. Euphoria gives way to depression. The world is suddenly colder. Dreams, however naïve, are crushed. Some of us fear ever being that vulnerable again, and, frankly, some never trust anyone that much again. But we were not meant to be alone. The Lord God created us male and female that, normatively, we might marry and, normatively, reproduce.

The Gospel lesson for the coming weekend (Luke 15:1-10) consists of two of Jesus’ parables about lostness and foundness. A shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the lost sheep. A woman lights a lamp and searches diligently for a lost coin. Upon finding what was lost, the finder rejoices. So, says Jesus, do the angels rejoice when one sinner repents… when the lost one is not merely found but reunited with the Finder.

The context for these parables is the harsh criticism of Jesus by religious leaders on account of His sharing table fellowship with sinners. Not only do His critics not see their own lostness, having been sinners from their mothers’ wombs, but they begrudge the Lord Jesus’ joy at restoring those who had purposely run away from His heavenly Father’s embrace.

The challenge to us today is never to forget that we remain in bondage to sin throughout our earthly pilgrimage. Whatever growth in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus that the Holy Spirit may have created in us, nevertheless, we must never forget our daily need for our Father’s mercy in Christ Jesus.

If we know the joy of having found something precious to us or even the joy of having been reunited with someone we treasure, we have just the slightest inkling of the rejoicing that goes on in heaven when a sinner repents, when a lost one is found.

Dear ones, never forget your need for Jesus’ blood and righteousness … no matter how much you may have repented of things done and left undone. Never forget to pray that those who are unbaptized, those who have fallen away from their baptism, and those who have wandered off into heresy or apostasy will be found and restored. What joy the angels will have as the lost are found and sinners repent of our rebellion!

If you are among the truly lost, the Lord Jesus never stops seeking you while you have breath!

Come home this weekend!


St Matthew's Pastor Sam Zumwalt


The Rev. Dr. Samuel Zumwalt has worked in churches for 44 years and in May 2020 celebrated the 39th anniversary of his ordination to the holy ministry. He is a member of the Society of the Holy Trinity (www.societyholytrinity.org). In 2004, Pr. Zumwalt moved with his family to Wilmington from Texas, where he served for 23 years as pastor of small, midsize, and large congregations.