Part of the reading for Come Follow Me this week is Luke 15. This chapter consists of three parables that teach us three different methods of handling “the lost.” President David O. McKay referred to these parables as “The Parables of the Lost and Found.”
We start with the parable of the lost sheep:
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
This sheep was lost due to the sheep’s own negligence. He simply wandered off in search of green grass. What green grass tempts our people? College difficulties, professional success, the praise of the world, political popularity, etc. President McKay stated, “they have lost track of what true success is.“
Bringing these lost sheep back requires time and effort. Elder Gary Stevenson outlined 4 steps to utilize in our shepherding efforts.
- We are to identify the lost sheep.
- We search after them until they are found.
- When they are found, we may have to lay them on our shoulders to bring them home.
- We surround them with friends upon their return
We continue with the parable of the lost coin:
8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
In this parable, the coin was lost because of the negligence of the person in charge. The coin was found very simply by CLEANING the house and LIGHTING a candle. What areas in our lives need to be cleaned and lit?
The Lord issued the charge to Simon Peter: “when thou art converted, strengthen they brethren.” We take upon ourselves a duty to bless and strengthen those around us once we are converted. Don’t be the reason for a coin being lost. Be the reason lost coins are found.
We end by examining the parable of the Prodigal Son:
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
In this timeless story, we see a son who (from everything that we can see) is 100% at fault. It is fair to assume that he was raised righteously, similar to his older brother. Having been raised in the faith, he made the conscious decision to request an early inheritance and pursue “riotous living.” Respecting his agency and trusting in the Lord, the father granted him his wish, cut him loose, and let him go completely. From what we can derive from the narrative, he did not pursue him and he did not try to contact him. The father simply stayed righteous while waiting on the Lord’s perfect timing, maintaining hope that one day his son would “come to himself.”
Regarding those who live lives contrary to everything they have been taught President McKay stated, “he himself is using his free agency to gratify his passions, to waste his substance in riotous living, to violate the covenants that he has made in the house of God. In such cases, there is LITTLE we can do but warn and plead until the recreant, as the prodigal son, at last comes to himself.“
In summary, we HAVE to find the lost. Some of the lost were once with us, some of the lost are brand new to the fold. Some of the lost will require us to chase them down and throw them on our shoulders. Some of the lost will require us to clean ourselves and light our own fires in order to find them. Some of the lost will require that we simply have faith and wait on the Lord’s timing.
I personally believe that in understanding the reasons for each loss, we understand the most effective ways to bring them home.
The final verse is one of my favorites:
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Let’s find the lost and party like Kings and Queens with them upon their return.
- Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: New Testament 2019 – May 6-12
- “That the Lost May Be Found” – Elder M. Russell Ballard, April 2012
- “Search and Rescue” – President Thomas S. Monson, April 1993