7688 - Lost Sheep

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May God open our eyes and our hearts to the wonders of His Word.

The crowds around Jesus usually had two sub-groups.

The first sub-group was made up of the poor, the sick, the crippled, people along with the blind and lame, the leper and many known to be living impure lives. These were the people eager to hear of the hope Jesus offered, and perhaps experience his healing touch.

The second sub-group was made up of Pharisees and teachers of the law. These were the “in crowd.” They were in charge of Jewish affairs, both religious and governmental. They made great effort to outwardly show a good life; but inside they were scheming and greedy. They had hardened their hearts against Jesus and his message.

The second group scorned the first group and avoided touching or associating with them because that would make them unclean. They thought of the people in the first group as sinners.

In today’s passage we find both groups surrounding Jesus, as was usually true, each seeking their own goal.

Listen to Luke 15:1-7:
Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke tells us that the Pharisees and teachers of the law were hostile to Jesus, thus they rejected his message. One reason for their scorn was that Jesus welcomed sinners and openly and warmly reached out to them.

Today we look at the first of three parables through which Jesus shows his deep concern for the repentance of sinners.

Notice that Jesus seeks to bring people, even the self-righteous Pharisees, to the recognition that all have missed the mark and need forgiveness. Everyone needs to be reconciled to holy God.

Jesus tells of a lost sheep, one out of a flock of one-hundred.

How does a sheep get lost? They stray away. It’s never intentional. They are fearful animals so they group together. Occasionally one of the sheep gets to eating and then goes a little further for the next bite. And so it goes. The sheep has not given attention to the shepherd.

Eventually the sheep raises its head and looks around. It may go in small circles looking for the way back. Then he gives the plaintive call, “baaa... help, help me.” But he has wandered so far the shepherd cannot hear his cry.

What has the shepherd been doing? When he realizes that one of the sheep is gone he begins to seek the lost.

The shepherd is not so concerned for the ninety-nine who are gathered together. He is concerned for the welfare of the one lost sheep.

When the sheep is found he makes his way home with the sheep and there is rejoicing with family and neighbors that the lost sheep has been found.

Jesus closes this parable with a spiritual application: “there is more rejoicing in heaven over the sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Jesus was emphasizing that the one missing sheep corresponds with the sinner with whom he was eating and talking. The ninety-nine refer to the Pharisees who thought themselves righteous and they had no need to repent.

Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance

(Lk. 5:32).” He also said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (Lk. 19:10).”