The parable of the lost sheep, as recorded by Luke. This story has a certain subtlety about it, as does much of Jesus’ teaching.
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? He’s not just saying that the one lost sheep is precious to him. He is saying that he will act to find it. The Good Shepherd will go after his lost sheep, even at the risk of losing some of the flock that is content in following Him. Or, for us, he will go after that one lost sinner, not content to lose even one.
And 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 that was lost.’ Sounds like there’s going to be a party in heaven!! Just like the prodigal son who was spiritually dead, when that one lost sinner is found it is time to kill the fattened calf, bring out the best wine, find the best musicians, and party down!! And notice – unlike the prodigal son, who first made his own decision to come home before the father ran out to meet him, the Shepherd went looking for this lost sheep, this lost sinner. He found him, rescued him, and carried him home on his own back!! This is not just being there to love us when we repent and come to him. This is actively loving and seeking the lost. I think this powerfully speaks to the entirely of the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of Man, of whom the Father testified the He was well pleased!! He came for us, the human race, who are lost in our sinful ways. He came for us, the lost sinners, who eat to this day of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, along with our earthly mother and father Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He did not just stay in heaven and let his lost sheep wander aimlessly on earth to our own death and demise. He left His home in heaven with the Father to walk on earth with us, to make a New Covenant of Grace and Mercy with His lost sheep who were not capable of living up to the old covenant of the law. He came seeking us, so that we may seek Him. Indeed – “We love because he first loved us.”1 John 4:19 ESV
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. This one I need to be careful with. I am certainly one sinner who repented. I mean, I’m one sinner who must repent every day. So why do I bring more joy than ninety-nine righteous people who have always done the right thing and need no repentance? I can only think that it is because those ninety nine also need repentance, but live under the lie that they are without sin. If we are not willing to humble ourselves and accept that we can not live up to what we have been freely given, we will never be able to fully submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Those who have accepted their sinful nature, who have hit that bottom, who have gone through that death with Christ Jesus, it is those who experience that resurrection with Jesus!! There is no resurrection without the crucifixion!! Friday must always come before Monday! We can’t fully experience the celebration of Jesus until we’ve fully experienced the execution of Jesus!! Without that execution, We would have no celebration!
“So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And 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 that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Luke 15:3-7 ESV