Finding the Lost Sheep

Luke 15: 1-10
Phil 3: 3-8a / Psa 105

…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 15:7)

You sought us in our sinfulness,
Took pains to bring us to remorse,
Showed us the way of righteousness,
And repentance as our recourse.

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around Jesus 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. Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15: 1-10)

Reflection

The Pharisees and scribes were scandalized when Jesus mingled with tax collectors and sinners, so Jesus gave two parables whose common message was that the conversion or deliverance of souls comes after God takes the first initiative. His keeping company with sinners could be the first step in the right direction for their lives.

The parables that our Lord relates here concerning the recovery of what was lost, and the rejoicing that follows may seem a bit exaggerated, especially in the case of the lost coin, but they were meant to convey the passion of God in seeking and recovering sinners. In several instances, we read in the Old Testament how God did everything to bring back His wayward people. In the book of Exodus, when Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, the Israelites lost their faith in God by worshipping a molten calf (Ex.32). They would have all been wiped out if Moses had not pleaded for God’s mercy. King Solomon was the wealthiest and wisest of Israel’s kings, but his heathen wives turned his heart to strange gods, which led to the division of his kingdom (1Kgs 11). A succession of evil kings followed, which resulted in the apostasy of Judah and Israel. But God did not give up on them. He sent His prophets to warn the people of the consequences of their infidelity. Among these prophets, God commanded Hosea to show them His brand of love by marrying a prostitute, who was unfaithful to him in every turn. But Hosea, in obedience to God, still took her back into his home, if only to manifest the love and faithfulness of God to His people. The final act of God’s love was when He sacrificed His Only Son to save our souls from damnation.

Jesus may well be asking us, “Who among you, having a hundred members in your group or community, and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine and seek out the errant member, and try to bring him back to active status?” As God’s shepherds, how much of His love and compassion have we received here in our community that we can be as passionate in keeping all our brothers and sisters in the fold as we are in inviting new members to our prayer fellowships? How concerned are we when one of our brothers takes a fall and “loses his way”? Do we find ways to bring him back? Or are we instead relieved that he is no longer attending our fellowships and prayer assemblies?

Keep us in the right paths, dear God, for the road of life is full of treachery and deceit. And should we lose our way, let Your Word be the voice in the wilderness to guide us back to the way of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who had sacrificed so much for our redemption. Teach us how to imitate our Good Shepherd: to discard our prejudices and our feelings of righteousness, and to seek out brothers who have wandered away from our flock. After all, we are all sinners; we all need to repent and be redeemed. Amen.

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