I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
The worth of something is determined by the amount someone is willing to pay for it. So, how much is one precious soul worth? What was God willing to pay for our redemption? It cost the blood of His darling Son. What is a soul worth to our church? How valuable is that one who is lost? Jesus drives home the point in Luke 15 because the religious crowd despised them and thought sinners were only fit to fuel the fires of hell (v.1-3). Jesus responds with one parable in three illustrations.
The worth of a soul is seen in the devotion of the shepherd in seeking for one lost sheep (v.4-7). Our question is, if one is valuable, then aren't the ninety-nine others valuable also? Of course! It is a matter of priorities. The others are safe and sheltered in the fold. They are cared for...as well they should be. There is a crisis, however. One is lost and in a desperate condition. It is not like a dog whose homing instincts might lead it back home. It is not a cat that could claw or climb a tree. It is not a horse that could gallop away. It is a helpless, hopeless lamb. Unless it is sought, it perishes. Now, that would be sad. The reality behind the story is far worse. That sheep stands for the sinner, and death brings an eternity of despair. Therefore, the evangelizing of the lost must claim priority in every decision for the church. It is that urgent. It is the mission of Jesus (Luke 19:10). Is it ours?
The worth of a soul is seen in the diligence of the woman in seeking for one lost coin (v.8-10). What effort does this woman go through to find the lost coin? She turns the house upside down! Why? The coin was valuable...and she hoped recoverable! People mean so much to God—they should to us! We have to believe that our efforts can pay off. Diligence and perseverance are required. Jesus likened our work to fishing for men (Lk.5:10-11). Fish don't typically flop into your boat—you go after them! The success of our search is related to effort and endurance.