The Lost Sheep
Jesus never gives up on a lost sheep.
A bag full of small stuffed toys. Ahead of time hide one of the toys.
Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7
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I have a very nice collection of stuffed toys. They come in all shapes and sizes. Animals are my favorites. Today I brought some of them to show to you. (Show the children the stuffed toys, commenting on each as you show it to them.)
Oh, my! I seem to have lost one of my stuffed toys. I know I had it when I got here this morning. Would you help me look for it? (Lead the children in a search for the lost toy. When it is found, continue the lesson.) Thank you so much for helping me find the lost toy. Even though I have a very large collection, every one of them is very important to me and I would be very upset if one of them was lost.
That reminds me of a lesson that Jesus taught to a group of religious leaders one day. The religious leaders were very upset that Jesus was often seen associating with sinners. He was even sometimes seen eating with them. The religious leaders didn't like that at all and were very critical of Jesus. Jesus told them a story to help them to understand.
"Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and you lost one of them," Jesus said. "Wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine who were safe, and go and search for the lost sheep? And when you found the lost sheep, wouldn't you joyfully put it on your shoulders and carry it back home? Wouldn't you be so happy that you would tell all of your friends about finding the lost sheep?" I imagine that all of the religious leaders had to agree that they would do just as Jesus had suggested. Then Jesus said to them,"In the same way, there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
The Bible teaches us that we are like sheep and sometimes stray away from God. That makes God very sad, but he never gives up on us. He keeps searching for us and calling to us. He wants to draw us back into his arms. He even sent Jesus, his Son, to save those who are lost. Aren't you glad that God doesn't give up on his lost sheep? I am, because "I once was lost, but now I'm found!"
Dear Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd. We are thankful that you came to save those who are lost. Amen.