“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
Jesus is talking to tax collectors and sinners who had come to hear Him. The tax collectors had been complaining that Jesus welcomed sinners and even ate with them.
So Jesus gave this parable… A shepherd discovers that one sheep is missing. The shepherd leaves the 99 and begins searching for the one that has wandered off. When he finds his lost sheep, he carries it back to safety and begins telling all his neighbors the good news – that he had found the lost sheep. He asks them to rejoice with him.
He had the tax collectors up to this point. Jesus knew the tax collectors would have done the same. One lost sheep would become be a priority to them unlike sinners who were viewed by them, apparently, as people Jesus should avoid. No doubt, they avoided the sinners also.
But Jesus had another point to make with this parable.
He turned the parable from sheep to sinners.
I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Jesus was letting the tax collectors and the sinners know that God loves them all. He loves us all. He wanted them to know that each one was valuable and if lost, God would search for them to bring them home to safety. He will carry each lost sinner in His arms back to the flock and all of heaven will rejoice that the one lost was found.
Jesus placed a value on people that the tax collectors couldn’t understand. Jesus gave His life on the cross for us to be free from the sins that separated us from God. And now His message is clear… we are loved, we are an important part of the family of God, we are worth looking for should we wander off.
Jesus hasn’t changed, He is still the Good Shepherd looking over a flock He dearly loves.
Thank You Father for sending Jesus to demonstrate Your tremendous love for me. Thank You for the assurance that my sin hasn’t caused You to give up on me or turn Your back on me. Help me please, to be willing to go the extra mile for the one that wanders off, help me to show Your unconditional love and Your desire to see them safely back in Your loving arms. In Jesus’ name, amen.
pic credit: holyspiritspeaks.org