When Jesus says, “Go to the lost sheep,” it is a command, and we are compelled by the power of His words to do it!
[SW144] 07/05/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Going to the Lost”
Text: Matthew 10:1-8, 14-15, 40-42
We are compelled to go after a single lost sheep until we find it, and then bring it back, rejoicing. We are compelled to light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully for a single lost coin until we find it (see Luke 15). Then we and all heaven rejoice!
Going to the lost. Many in today’s church think He is saying, “Go to those who do not believe in Me,” but Jesus says, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!”
God’s people? Lost? It is the same now as it was then. Many of God’s people were and are lost sheep.
Today, Jesus not only commands us to go to the lost sheep of Israel who do not see that He is their Messiah, but also to go to the lost sheep of the church.
Notice that the disciples did not question Jesus (What do You mean? We do not see any lost ones!). Nope. They knew there were lost sheep in Israel.
What signs do I see that there are lost sheep within today’s church? Many sheep in the church are:
— distressed — oppressed — depressed
— confused — compromised — afraid
— lulled to sleep OR
— slaves to sin, when Jesus came to set us free, indeed!
Why are the sheep lost? Do they not have apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)?
Israel had priests and experts in the law of Moses, but Jesus found fault with them. He declared to them that they did many things to misguide His people.
He finds fault with the leaders of today’s church, too, who do many things to misguide His people.
Lamentations 2:14 Your prophets have seen for you
False and foolish visions;
And they have not exposed your iniquity
So as to restore you from captivity,
But they have seen for you false and misleading oracles.
We should not be surprised. Jesus spoke of false shepherds, wolves among the flock (Verse 16). There were wolves in sheep’s clothing within the fledgling church (Acts 20:29-31).
But we in today’s church have not been on guard as Paul commanded by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Acts 20:29.
And the people are biblically illiterate and therefore cannot discern — few know the Word of God. They are sheep that do not know the Good Shepherd’s voice.
As a result, they follow the voice of strangers, and even love it, as in Jeremiah’s day:
Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so!
What can be done? We obey the command of Jesus Christ, and go to them!
What does He give us as we go to the lost sheep of the church?
(Not as we sit, but as we go!)
In Matthew 10:1, He gives us authority over evil spirits to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (also see Luke 10:19).
Why does He give us such authority? So people will know the kingdom of heaven draws near!
He commands us that as we go, we are to preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He commands us to preach repentance (Mark 6:12).
Then the authority comes into play, as the evidence that the kingdom of heaven is near: we heal, raise, cleanse and cast out.
These are the accompanying signs (Mark 16:17), the attesting miracles that show the lost sheep that God and Christ are the true reality and not just philosophical ideas to which they give mental assent.
But we cannot preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand unless the kingdom of heaven is in our midst — within us. And when the kingdom of heaven is within us, we will have His authority, and we will heal, raise, cleanse and cast out.
FREELY we have received, and FREELY we give (Verse 8).
What do we FREELY give? FREEdom to the captives (Isaiah 61), to the lost sheep of the church!
We do it not give in our own power or by man’s wisdom, but in God’s power and wisdom and might! The Spirit of the Lord God is upon us!
What will be the result of our going to seek the lost sheep of the church? One of two things will happen, Jesus says:
#1 — We will not be received, and so we must do as He commands in Verse 14. Beloved, this will happen much in today’s backslidden church. It happened to Christ Himself, as He walked the earth! The consequence:
15 “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”
#2 — We will be received, welcomed, accepted, and those who do it will receive a reward:
Matthew 10:40 “ He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
41 “ He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet [that is, as a prophet sent by the Lord] shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man [that is, a righteous man made righteous by the Lord] shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
42 “And whoever in the name of a disciple [as a disciple of Christ] gives to one of these little ones [prophets and righteous men] even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” [my interpretation in brackets]
Beloved, I am praying for today’s church to receive those whom Jesus is sending out even now.
I am praying that the lost sheep of the church will be found and carried back with rejoicing.
I am praying that the lost coin will be found and cause great rejoicing, in heaven and on the earth!
I am praying that many in the church will ask for the kingdom of heaven to be within them — that is, asking for God the Father to fill them with His Holy Spirit.
THEN they will receive authority. THEN they will proclaim that the kingdom of heaven has drawn near and their hearers must repent.
And I am expecting to see the attesting signs.
Amen, Lord. Let it be so!