Reclaiming the Lost (Luke 15:1-32)

Have you ever lost anything of great value? What did you do? I’m guessing you searched high and low for it.  You retraced your steps, turned over every rock, look in every nook and cranny, asked everyone if they had seen it. You exhausted every opportunity, and then you did it all over again, and again, and again. You never wanted to give up the search, because the lost item was so valuable.

I sincerely hope that has never happened to you, but sadly I know lots of people to whom it has happened. I know one couple who lost a wedding ring set that was more valuable than many homes. Thankfully, they had it insured…

But how about you, are you one who misplaces things and is always on the lookout for them? While I haven’t lost many things of value in my adult life, I do recall one very close call that happened about 30 years ago, long before cell phones, debit cards, and LifeLock®.

We lived in Manchester, Connecticut at the time and our kids were little. It was a warm, sunny Saturday in June, somewhat unusual in early summer for CT, and we had just arrived home from spending the day at Rocky Neck State Park, some 50 miles away in Rhode Island. It had been a long, fun-filled day until we arrived home and after unpacking the car I decided to change out of my sandy clothes. It was at that moment that I realized; I didn’t have my wallet.

You know the drill, what did I do? After retracing all my steps mentally, I remembered putting my wallet on the bumper of our car in the beach parking lot as we loaded the trunk before leaving. No, surely I hadn’t…but yes indeed, I had. 

So, I quickly jumped in the car and drove leisurely back to the beach 😉, hoping against hope that I could find it somewhere. We didn’t have much in those days and what little I had in my wallet was important, so I could not afford to lose it. I had to find it, and the day was almost over. The sun would be setting soon.

My heart raced as I approach the State Park, and I remember thinking “what are the odds” as I drove through the front gate. Praying as I drove, “Lord please let it still be there somewhere and help me find it.”  My heart sank as I drove through the parking lot quickly to the spot we have occupied, and it wasn’t there. I tried to find someone around to ask if they might have found it, but everyone was gone for the day. So, I did the only thing I could, I headed back home with that sick feeling in my stomach, characteristic of having lost something of great value.

I exited the parking lot and made a right turn on to the main road and headed home on the long hour drive into the setting sun. I was almost catatonic, lost in thought. And then something caught my eye as I sped by. Could it be; is it possible I thought. Would I be so fortunate to find it like that?  I quickly pulled to the shoulder and bolted from the car, almost before the wheels stopped.

I ran the 50 yards back to the spot as fast as possible. And what did I find? There it was, fully intact on the shoulder of the road. Scraped and scratched on the outside but entirely whole on the inside. I had found it! Well, that’s what I thought at the time. Now that the years have passed, I know that Someone had protected it for me and kept it safe until I returned to retrieve it.

Can you imagine the happiness and joy I felt at finding something of great value to me that had been lost? At that moment in time, what had happened was almost indescribable. I told that story to every family member and friend I could for years. And as you can tell, I’m still telling that story today.

As thrilling as that was for me to experience and as fun as it is to retell it today, it pales by comparison to the story Luke retells in our focal chapter this week. Luke retells three stories about reclaiming lost things and the last one is a humdinger. I say he retells them because Luke is passing along the stories originally told by Jesus and they are fantastic stories that you may have heard before. But, do you understand when, where and why Jesus told them? Once you understand the answers to those questions, the Parables of the Lost will take on new meaning to you. I hope you can join us for the study this week. It promises to be great fun!

If you are unable to join us in person, please feel free to download the Bible study materials for your personal use by following one of these links: PowerPoint Slides, PDF File

For more information about our current series, including study materials from previous weeks, please see Doubtless Living: The Gospel of Luke. You can also find several other Bible study series and other useful information on my blog available for download any time by visiting