Grateful to Be Saved

The Greatest Search and Rescue Attempt Ever Made

Luke 15:1-7

Search and Rescue Sunday

Pastor Craig Ledbetter                                           

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland

29 Mar, 2009  AM


I.        Introduction (Luke 19:10)


A.      Illustration – Rescue at Sea


1.       Years ago, in a small fishing village in Holland, a young boy taught the world about the rewards of unselfish service. Because the entire village revolved around the fishing industry, a volunteer rescue team was needed in cases of emergency. One night the winds raged, the clouds burst and a gale force storm capsized a fishing boat at sea. Stranded and in trouble, the crew sent out the S.O.S. The captain of the rescue rowboat team sounded the alarm and the villagers assembled in the town square overlooking the bay.

2.       While the team launched their rowboat and fought their way through the wild waves, the villagers waited restlessly on the beach, holding lanterns to light the way back. An hour later, the rescue boat reappeared through the fog and the cheering villagers ran to greet them. Falling exhausted on the sand, the volunteers reported that the rescue boat could not hold any more passengers and they had to leave one man behind. Even one more passenger would have surely capsized the rescue boat and all would have been lost.

3.       Frantically, the captain called for another volunteer team to go after the lone survivor. Sixteen-year-old Hans stepped forward along with others. His mother grabbed his arm, pleading, "Please don't go. Your father died in a shipwreck 10 years ago and your older brother, Paul, has been lost at sea for three weeks now.

4.       Hans, you are all I have left." Hans replied, "Mother, I have to go. What if everyone said, 'I can't go, let someone else do it?' Mother, this time I have to do my duty. When the call for service comes, we all need to take our turn and do our part." Hans kissed his mother, joined the team and disappeared into the night. Another hour passed, which seemed to Hans' mother like an eternity. Finally, the rescue boat darted through the fog with Hans standing up on the bow. Cupping his hands, the exhausted captain called out, "Did you find the lost man?" Barely able to contain himself, Hans excitedly yelled back, "Yes, we found him. Tell my mother it's my older brother, Paul!"


B.      There is nothing like someone getting saved! Rescued! Salvaged from certain death!

C.      28 years ago, I was saved! Not from a shipwreck, or from a plane-wreck, or an earthquake, or a hurricane. I was saved from something so terrible, that it took the Son of God dying on the cross to make it possible. And I will never get over it!

D.      I want to talk to you this morning about the greatest Search and Rescue ever attempted!


II.      Background (Luke 15:1,2)


A.      A crowd followed Jesus around everywhere He went

B.      Yes, His disciples followed Him, but more than that, there were people known as “sinners”, “harlots”, “publicans” (who were professional thieves, hired by the Roman government to gather taxes for them)

C.      Jesus is having dinner at Matthew’s home. Matthew used to be a Tax Collector for the Roman Government, but was just that day, made a disciple of Jesus Christ. He had left his custom’s table, and the money, and the power, and answered Christ’s call to “Follow Him!”

D.      When Jesus arrived at the house, it was full of people! Not of the wealthy, or the powerful, but of people that society had branded as “sinners” – the refuse

E.       The Pharisees, who always closely watched everything Jesus did, were shocked at how infested this home was with such sinful people – and they were sinful people – no question about it!

F.       But this was no “den of thieves” – it was a hospital. It was a safe haven. It was home now for dozens of people who had been lost for years.

G.      It is here that Jesus tells of the greatest rescue attempt ever made


III.   Message


A.      The Value of Life (Luke 15:3,4)


1.       Jesus took the time to teach the Religious Do Gooders about the value of life. He taught them using a Parable – a simple story with a powerful truth

2.       He told of a shepherd who had 100 sheep.


a.       In the evening, when all the sheep were being gathered into the fold, he noticed that one was out, still missing. He counted again, but only 99 were present

b.       In those days, everyone was a farmer – either growing food, or raising livestock – that’s how they all lived!

c.        Everyone had some cows, or sheep, or goats

d.       Jesus mentioned the one sheep that was missing

e.        It was evening. Dangerous to the Shepherd to try and go and find it.

f.        What would one sheep be worth?

g.        Why care about ONE sheep? Now, if 50 were lost, that would be something to worry about… but only ONE? Yes!


3.       We live in an age where people don’t care about individuals – about each other, about how they feel, about their souls. Only care about “the crowd”


a.       People only care about themselves

b.       People only see customers and clients

c.        Husbands and wives don’t care about each other – they don’t sacrifice anything for each other anymore

d.       So many marriages are “on the rocks” – their homes are ruined

e.        We have turned to the false philosophy of the survival of the fittest

f.        And it simply because people don’t care about the one!


4.       But there is value to just one soul


a.       Think of the value of a child, crying, lost, frantic

b.       Think of the value of a weak, broken body, trapped in the rubble of a collapsed house

c.        We all know and can feel the value of a soul today, but it wasn’t always that way


1)       The Roman culture 2,000 years ago took premature babies, and down-syndrome children, and sickly infants out to the hillsides, and abandoned them to the wolves so that society would not be burdened with them

2)       Up until only 150 years ago, people made slaves out of blacks, thinking they did not have souls, or had lesser souls!

3)       Things haven’t changed – Just 60 years ago, Adolf Hitler classified some humans lower than others (good evolutionist that he was), and slaughtered them by the millions in the name of the survival of the fittest. Almost all of Europe agreed with Hitler to some degree or another!


5.       One person, one soul is of immense, priceless value


a.       Farmers know it! There was not ONE of those men in that audience who wouldn’t have left the 99, and headed back out to the fields to find the sheep – not one!

b.       Search and Rescue volunteers know it


1)       They hear of just one person, trapped on a Kerry mountain, and they are off- risking their lives to save them

2)       They hear of just one person, in danger out at sea and off they go

3)       They hear of just one person, caught in a house fire…

4)       They hear of just one person, still missing after an earthquake or other disaster


c.        God knows it!


1)       One soul is worth the whole world to God – just one soul (Mk 8:36,37)

2)       One soul is worth patiently working on him or her heart –patiently waiting for them to respond to His word

3)       One soul is worth the life of His only begotten Son




a.       It Is Made In God's Image... Gen 1:26-27


1)       Man was created in the image of God – not with a body (God doesn’t have a body), but a soul!

2)       So that we could feel, and hurt, and rejoice, and think, and love and hate, and choose, and reject

3)       We are more than animals – we have a sense of God


b.       It Is That Part Over Which We Have Much Control...


1)       The body is mostly the result of genetics


a)       We might be able to change a little through exercise, plastic surgery, etc.

b)       But we cannot stop the eventual aging and dying process


2)       The soul, however, is different...


a)       Despite one's genetics, there is much that can be changed

b)       By cooperating with God, we can change attitudes, dispositions, character - Ro 12:1-2; Ga 5:21-22; Col 3:12-15


c.        It Does Not Cease To Exist At Death...


1)       The body dies, and soon returns back to the dust awaiting the resurrection

2)       But the soul lives on… somewhere

3)       Either in heaven with God, or in hell

4)       Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”


7.       Every person in this room, in the world is worth far more than this whole planet, and its riches and its power. We need to get back to understanding that! No one is of lesser value than priceless!


B.      The Lostness of the World (Luke 15:4)


1.       The Bible uses a great word for the condition of the sheep – LOST! Not poor, or unhealthy, or depressed, or oppressed, but Lost!

2.       It simply means, Away from God, and unable to make our way back!


a.       If a person gets “lost” on a trip it is because they have taken a wrong turn somewhere and don’t know how to get back

b.       This world is lost, and anyone can see it if they open their eyes! I go out at night, and see what so many refuse to see


1)       Drunkards. By the hundred, walking as zombies down the streets

2)       Girls, 20-25 throwing themselves at filthy men

3)       Teenagers pawing each other and sitting on each other, and kissing at 15 and 16 years old

4)       They are lost. They have lost their way


c.        I see the TV standards dropping, the movies promoting lifestyles that animals are repulsed at

d.       I hear music that promotes rebellion and hatred and violence

e.        It’s all because we are lost – we are very far away from God


3.       We are not just lost, but thoroughly lost – ruined


a.       Not just slightly off course, but completely, and utterly ruined

b.       Listen to Eph 2:12 “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world”

c.        Rom 1:28-32  “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”


4.       Isaiah 53:6 says “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

5.       That’s us – humanity, no matter how religious or how good they try to be, they are lost. And all our iniquity, all our sins were placed on Jesus! More about that in a minute!


C.      The Risk Factor Involved (Luke 15:4)


1.       Those who are lost, are in terrible danger


a.       Psa 73:18-20  “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.”

b.       Luk 3:7 “Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”


2.       And it is because of their sin


a.       Most people get in trouble at sea, or on the mountains because of pushing the limits, and doing what they should not be doing

b.       All of us, without exception are in trouble with God because of our sin. Because we always push the limits, doing things we should not be doing – breaking God’s rules

c.        All have sinned, and the wages of sin is death!


3.       In danger not of just death (which is bad enough) but of the righteous judgment by God – the wrath of almighty God

4.       So, somebody has to do something


a.       You don’t just leave a lamb out in the wilderness as wolf-food

b.       And you don’t just leave a climber to freeze trapped on a mountain

c.        And you don’t just abandon a distressed ship in the stormy sea

d.       Somebody has to do something to save them!


5.       And believe me, it comes with great risk!


a.       Sometimes, it is easy to find and rescue somebody

b.       But other times, it is very difficult, and very risky


1)       "Daring Rescue on Carrauntoohil" - The Kerryman, 29/7/67.

2)       Members of the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team and Gardaí on Sunday evening effected one of the most daring rescues ever performed on Carrauntoohil when they brought down safely a Corkman who had been injured in a fall on a sheer rock face. The injured man was Bill Collins, of St. Lukes, who was climbing on the eastern face  of Carrauntoohil with his friend Con Horgan when the accident occurred. They were about 400 feet from the summit when Bill Collins slipped and fell 20 feet before he became wedged in the rocks. He sustained a compound fracture of the right leg and right arm and some head injuries. Had he not been wedged in the rocks he would have fallen a further 200 feet.

3)       Having made his friend as comfortable as possible, Con Horgan heroically faced the dangerous climb back down on his own and raised the alarm at about 7.30pm at Beaufort Garda Station. He then went back up the mountain to be with his friend while Gardaí were alerting the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team. Five members of the team including two newly qualified doctors arrived at the scene of the accident at about 10.30 in pitch darkness and Gardaí Guthrie and O'Sullivan arrived at about 11pm.

4)       It was bitterly cold and there was a storm blowing with the mountain being lashed by rain. It became so cold that the rescuers were unable to keep warm and decided to start back down the mountain at 1am rather than stay and succumb to the cold on the mountain top. It took 8 hours of perilous rock climbing to lower the stretcher bearing Bill Collins to the foot of the mountain and a further 3 hours to get him out to where the ambulance had been waiting all through the night. He was removed to hospital at approximately 1pm. The rescuers had spent nearly 19 hours on the mountain without food or sleep at this time.


6.       Thousands of stories could be told of dangerous sea rescues, and flood rescues, and even of the men and women who risked their lives to get people out of the Twin Towers on that terrible day of September 11th, 2001

7.       Every time someone rushes to a danger zone, they are risking their lives for others, and I honour them. I thank them.

8.       They do it, knowing that they may not come out alive! Illustration:


a.       The story of Capt Pat Ethridge of the Cape Hatteras station in the US.

b.       One night, in a howling hurricane, the lookout observed a distress signal from a ship that had gone aground on the dangerous diamond shoals, ten miles out at sea.

c.        The lifeboats could easily be launched, the lookout thought, but getting them back would be impossible.

d.       Capt Ethridge ordered the boats rolled out.

e.        One of the lifeguards protested, “Captain! We can get out there, and we can help them, but we will never make it back!”

f.        “Boys” came the reply that has gone down in history, “we don’t have to come back!”


9.       Listen to these words in Mark 15:31, “Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.”

10.    Hey! Why was Jesus here to begin with?


a.       Not to save the good people. Not to fix the healthy

b.       He had come to seek and to save the lost – those in danger

c.        The harlots, the sinners, the thieves, the liars, the wicked, the ruined!

d.       Do you know what is funny? There really are none who don’t need saving!

e.        On the Titanic, there were all classes of people. But they ALL needed to be saved!

f.        Same is true in this room, and throughout the world!


11.    What is The Cost Required To Save a Soul?


a.       What price is required to redeem our souls from the wrath of God's judgment?

b.       Nothing less than the blood of the Son of God! - 1Pe 1:18-19

c.        Even if you cannot fully comprehend why Jesus had to die, you should able to see that the souls of men must be extremely valuable if His death was necessary


D.      The Joy of Salvation (Luke 15:5-7)


1.       There is a joy like no other – the joy of saving a life from destruction

2.       Out of disaster, comes such joy over someone getting rescued!

3.       As much as we rightly honour the men and women of every Search and Rescue Team in Ireland, every Garda, every Ambulance driver, every Doctor and Nurse, every Fireman, for every Joe Soap who risks their life for another…

4.       We also honour and worship the One who risked everything to save us (Revelation 5:9-14)

5.       Yes there is joy in the heart of the person who has been saved – saved from hell

6.       But there is more joy in heaven and in the Saviour


a.       Heb 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

b.       Luk 22:14-15  And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer

c.        Luk 15:5-7  And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 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. 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.


7.       There is shouting, and singing, and praising God over just ONE sinner who repents, and turns to Jesus Christ, and follows Him home!


IV.    Conclusion


A.      There is nothing like someone getting saved! Rescued! Salvaged from certain death!

B.      28 years ago, I was saved! Not from a shipwreck, or from a plane-wreck, or an earthquake, or a hurricane. I was saved from something so terrible, that it took the Son of God dying on the cross to make it possible. And I will never get over it!

C.      Jesus has told us, in the simplest of way of the greatest rescue attempt ever made

1.       He Explained The Value of Life – the value to just one soul. Every person in this room, in the world is worth far more than this whole planet, and its riches and its power. We need to get back to understanding that!

2.       He Explained The Lostness of the World


a.       Not poor, or unhealthy, or depressed, or oppressed, but Lost!

b.       Away from God, and unable to make our way back!

c.        We are not just lost, but thoroughly lost – ruined

d.       No matter how religious or how good we try to be, we are lost.


3.       He Explained The Risk Factor Involved


a.       Those who are lost, are in terrible danger – of two deaths!

b.       And it is because of their sin

c.        So, somebody has to do something - And believe me, it comes with great risk!

d.       What is The Cost Required To Save a Soul? Nothing less than the blood of the Son of God! - 1Pe 1:18-19


4.       Lastly, Jesus Described The Joy of Salvation – not of religion!


a.       Joy in heaven

b.       Joy in the heart of the person who has received eternal life

c.        Joy in the heart of the person who told them about Jesus and showed them the way!

d.       Only the devil is made on Salvation Day!


D.      Question


1.       Have you been saved?