“He Was Lost, and Is Found”

Lesson 18 – Luke 15 and 17




Think about a time when you lost something important to you or when a family member became lost.  How did you feel when the object or person was lost? How did you feel when the object or person was found?  Jesus often taught spiritual lessons by relating them to common experiences of the people. This lesson discusses some parables that teach the importance of searching for and finding those who are lost.  It can also help us understand the joy that comes when we repent and when we help others repent.


The Savior taught the worth of souls.


Luke 15:1-10 Jesus presented the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the piece of silver after the Pharisees and scribes murmured, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2).

Luke 15:4 In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd left ninety-nine sheep to find one that was lost.

Luke 15:8 In the parable of the piece of silver, the woman sought diligently for one lost coin.

D&C 18:10-13 As taught in these latter-day scriptures, we learn from the actions of the shepherd and the woman that the worth of souls is great; that all men are valuable in the sight of the Lord, and that He rejoices when we repent of our sins.

Luke 15:4-5, 8; Alma 31:34-35 teach us our responsibility toward those who are lost. 

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of those who are lost, saying:  “Some of our own … cry out in pain and suffering and loneliness and fear. Ours is a great and solemn duty to reach out and help them, to lift them, to feed them if they are hungry, to nurture their spirits if they thirst for truth and righteousness. … “… There are those who were once warm in the faith, but whose faith has grown cold. Many of them wish to come back but do not know quite how to do it. They need friendly hands reaching out to them. With a little effort, many of them can be brought back to feast again at the table of the Lord. “My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives” (Ensign, Nov. 1996, 86).

Luke 15:5-7, 9-10; D&C 18:15-16 all give us guidance on how we should respond at the return of a person who has been lost.


Jesus taught that Heavenly Father rejoices in forgiving the repentant.


Luke 15:11-32 records the parable of the prodigal son.

Luke 15:13 In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger son took his inheritance and wasted it.   Note that prodigal means wasteful. With minor effort, we can think of some ways that people today make errors similar to those of the prodigal son.

Luke 15:14-16 records what happened to the prodigal son after he had wasted all his inheritance. In our day, we can find situations that are quite similar to that of the prodigal son.

Luke 15:16 records that when the prodigal son was in want, “no man” in the far country cared for him.  We learn from this that we had best be prepared to care for ourselves if we want to leave home and family to indulge our selfish desires for worldly pleasures.

Luke 15:17 teaches that the son thought of his father when he saw that no one in the far country cared for him.

Luke 15:18-19 allows us to see that the son was humbled and he had a repentant attitude when he thought of returning to his father. 

Luke 15:20 The father, when he saw his son returning, was overjoyed and expressed great love to his son.

Luke 15:21-24 shows that his father responded to his son’s confession with joy and forgiveness.

Luke 15:7; Mosiah 26:30; D&C 58:42 here we see how the father’s response is like the Lord’s response when we repent.

Referring to the parable of the prodigal son, President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I ask you to read that story. Every parent ought to read it again and again. It is large enough to encompass every household, and enough larger than that to encompass all mankind, for are we not all prodigal sons and daughters who need to repent and partake of the forgiving mercy of our Heavenly Father and then follow His example?” (“Of You It Is Required to Forgive,” Ensign, June 1991, 5).

Luke 15:25-30 shows us that the elder son was angry with the way his father received the younger son.

Luke 15:31-32 records the father’s response to the elder son’s complaint. Consider why it is sometimes difficult to welcome back a “prodigal son” who has repented and then consider what we can learn from this man’s response to his returning son.


A man whom Jesus had healed of leprosy returned to thank him.


Luke 17:11-19 provides us with the parable of the ten lepers.

Luke 17:11-14 As the Savior went to Jerusalem, he healed ten lepers. Of those ten lepers, only one returned to express gratitude. 

Some of us may be like the nine ungrateful lepers, not always expressing our gratitude for the blessings we receive. Yet the scriptures teach us that it important that we express gratitude to the Lord.

Luke 17:14, 19 Although all ten lepers were cleansed, only the man who returned was made whole. There is obviously a difference between being healed and being made whole. Bishop Merrill J. Bateman taught: “In becoming a whole person, the grateful leper was healed inside as well as on the outside. That day nine lepers were healed skin deep, but only one had the faith to be made whole” (Ensign, May 1995, 14).


The parable of the unprofitable servant


Luke 17:5-10 records the parable of the unprofitable servant.  Jesus presented this parable after the Apostles requested of him, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

We learn from this parable that we can increase our faith by diligently serving the Lord.

Mosiah 2:20-25 Think about why we are unprofitable servants even when we do everything the Lord commands us to do and what these verses reveal about the Lord’s love for us.


The parable of the laborers in the vineyard


Matthew 20:1-16 records the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.

In this parable, those who worked one hour received the same pay as those who worked the entire day. We should not be concerned about who receives the most or who does the most in the service of the Lord. The perfect Judge of all, who knows our hearts, will judge us with mercy and grant us “whatsoever is right” (Matt. 20:4, 7).




We feel great joy when we repent and return to the Lord and when we help others return. We should appreciate Jesus’ parables and other teachings that show God’s love for his children and his desire that we love one another.