“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? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 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.
For the last couple of days this week, we are going to jump back into the earlier parts of Luke 15, which also feature parables about lost objects. We see that from God’s perspective, any lost object is valuable. This is the essence of the gospel.
At first glance it seems like a 1% loss on your investment is pretty good, but that comes from our modern understanding of value. The size of the flock that Jesus described in the parable of the lost sheep suggests that the shepherd only had modest means. A wealthy shepherd would've had 300 or more sheep. So for the shepherd in the parable, the loss of one sheep would have been a serious blow to him.
Sheep are defenseless creatures, so running away is their only defense, but even then, they are not very fast. The shepherd would be forced to leave his 99 sheep in the care of another and search until he found the one. Understanding the shepherd has modest means is helpful in understanding God’s care for you. This shepherd stood to lose something if he did not find the sheep he was looking for. Similarly, the Father searches for lost sheep with diligence and intensity. He searches because He eagerly wishes to find the one that is lost.
When the shepherd found the sheep, he placed it on his shoulders and cared for it. When he returned home, he made a big deal about the one that was found. Such is the joy of heaven when a lost sinner receives the grace of God. One thing all followers of Jesus should be able to agree on is the joy that is found when someone returns home. Yet as we saw in the case of the older brother, it is easy to miss out on the joy of being satisfied with ourselves. When people repent, we should rejoice. This is what we live for.
- When were you found? What did it mean to you to be found?
- How have you invested yourself in a search for the lost?
- Praise God for seeking you and finding you.