Jesus Journey: 40 Days in the Footsteps of Christ

Day 13

The Lost Lamb

Read Luke 15

Oops. We lost one.

Our guide Kenny says it’s the first time it’s ever happened to him.

We walked into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher about an hour ago with forty-three people in our group. Now there’s only forty-two. And we cannot find the lost lamb.

The church had been so crowded that people could barely move. As we were leaving, a shoving match started, jostling the mob. Then we heard something like breaking glass and somebody screamed and a fight broke out. I sure hadn’t expected to experience this in the somber setting of an ancient church.

People began to push in panic. Kenny said it was time to leave. Right away. So we got out.

Now we’re in the alleyway and after a quick count we realize Marlene is missing. We send a delegation back into the church but the crowds make any search all but impossible.

Kenny says we have no other choice but to move on, that either Marlene will find us or he’ll go back and find Marlene later, so we go to the next spot on our itinerary minus a member.

But before we start the tour of another church, we’re all distracted and worried. We can’t just go on like nothing happened. So I ask our group to stop and pray for Marlene to be found. I tell God that Marlene is such a gentle, soft-spoken senior citizen that I simply can’t imagine her all by herself in the rather rough-and-tumble crowds choking the old city that hot afternoon.

“But God,” I pray, “You said you came to seek and save the lost, so please find our little lost lamb Marlene today.”

Something tells me to be specific. I say: “God, please remind Marlene that our guide Kenny’s mobile phone number is on the back of the name tag she is wearing around her neck, and help her to figure out how to place a call to him. Amen.”

Within seconds after the “amen,” Kenny’s phone beeps. He answers it. We watch as his face goes pale. He blinks twice. And after a brief conversation, he hangs up and says, “That was Marlene. She said she suddenly remembered she had my number on her name tag.”

A bone-rattling cheer goes up from our group. Right before this everyone had been so dejected. Now there’s euphoria!

I can tell Kenny’s a little shaken by the immediacy of the answer to prayer, and to tell the truth, so am I. But after all, we were praying to the one who came to find the lost.


Luke 15 is the only time Jesus tells three parables in a row. And they’re all on the same theme: Lost things.

The Pharisees and other religious people had been wondering why Jesus spent so much time with notorious “sinners” (unlike us! I’m sure they were thinking). So he tells them.

These parables all have three elements in common: In each one, something’s lost. Then an all-out effort is made to search for it. And then — don’t miss this part — there is a huge party.

As Bill Hybels says, the point Jesus is making to the religious people is clear: Lost people matter to God. And they should matter to you too. 22

The shepherd doesn’t just hope the lost sheep will wander back, and he doesn’t just drop a trail of sheep snacks. He leaves the others and goes looking for the lost one.

The woman doesn’t say, “I’ll look for one-tenth of my wealth tomorrow.” She lights a lamp immediately and does a full house search.

The father, when he sees his son returning, hikes up his robe and runs to meet him! In the culture of his day, this kind of display would have been humiliating — but the father couldn’t care less.

Jesus’ own life mission statement is this: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). It’s why he’s here.

Have you ever considered what this says about how valuable you are to God? He came to earth as Jesus because he treasures you. You’re worth more to God than you can imagine, worth so much that he put together a search and rescue effort to find you, his lost sheep, lost coin, lost child.

And doesn’t this motivate you to be a part of God’s great search and rescue team, too?


Jesus says a party in heaven is thrown whenever one lost person is found. That means when you prayed that prayer to receive Christ, angels threw a party.

I don’t know what an angel party looks like, but I’m guessing there’s singing, celebrating, praising (maybe even some pita bread and hummus). And they repeat that over and over, millions and millions of times, each time a lost person comes home — they never tire of searching, and they never tire of partying!

I think that in a lot of churches today, there’s not enough searching or partying.

Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that Jesus came to bring organization or information, and we gauge our Christian lives on how big our organizations are, or how much information we know. But he came to bring transformation; to seek and save the lost!


Marlene was the recipient of several gifts from people in our group just overjoyed to see her again — and I treated her to lunch the next day. She became an object of special affection precisely because she’d once been lost, and now was found.

We later discovered that Marlene had been separated from our group right when the fight broke out in the church. The security guards had been putting up some barricades to keep the crowd in order, and she was trapped on the other side.

Then, at the exact moment we prayed for her, Marlene stopped panicking (yes, she’d been a little freaked when she realized we were gone). She suddenly remembered she had Kenny’s number. But she had no phone. She asked God to send her someone who could help. And a kind English-speaking priest stopped and let her use his mobile phone.

And I think the angels rejoiced.

Of course, the parable of the Prodigal Son is told to the Pharisees not just to explain that this is how the Messiah lives; it’s told so they can see how they should live. Because they are the final character in the story — the stodgy, duty-bound and bitter older brother.

Seek the lost, Jesus is saying. It’s what matters — and in the end, it’s a lot more fun!

Now, if “fun” is not the first word you think of when someone mentions religion, Jesus is about to agree with you.


How did today’s devotional help you understand Jesus’ love for others? How does it help you understand his love for you? What implications does this have for your priorities and actions?