The Lost Sheep

Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable, saying, “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. (Luke 15:1-7)

In the Parable of the Wedding Feast, (Matthew 22:1-14) and the Great Supper, (Luke 14:15-24) we have seen the desire of the Father to not see the lost perish. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Both of these Parables reveal the Father’s desire that many will come and enjoy the many blessings which can be found in His Kingdom.

Today as we look in the 15th Chapter of the Gospel of Luke we see three Parables that reveal the great love of our Father in heaven. The Parable of the Lost Sheep, (Luke 14:1-7) the Lost Coin, (Luke 15:8-10) and the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-32) All three of these Parables were told at the same occasion and were in response to the grumbling Pharisees and scribes. All three have the same theme, the Father’s love for the lost. We can learn from them the love of our heavenly Father for the lost and that we too should have the same love for them as well. First we will look at “The Lost Sheep.”

In the setting of this Parable we see that the tax collectors and sinners have come near to Jesus to hear His teachings. Tax collectors were considered to be extortionist because they often collected more of the people’s money than what they were required. They were also considered to be traitors because they were Jews that represented the occupying power of Rome.

The sinners were other people of bad reputation. Perhaps they had been excommunicated from the synagogue. The sinners were probably the harlots who were known to be receptive of the teaching of Jesus. “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They *said, “The first.” Jesus *said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.” (Matthew 21:31-32) They had in the past been listening to the teaching of John the Baptist and so know were interested in what Jesus could teach them.

The Pharisees and the scribes were the leading Jewish leaders of the day and were grumbling because Jesus was often found in the company of these sinners. Jesus had even selected a tax collector to be one of His disciples. Neither did Jesus hesitate to dine with the tax collectors. (Luke 5:27-29) The sinners would often gather around Jesus and this was very bothersome to the religious elite. (Luke 7:26-39) Once again the association with the sinners had brought a charge against Jesus from the Pharisees and the scribes. “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” In response to this charge Jesus told the Parable of the Lost Sheep. (Luke 15:4-7)

As Jesus began the telling of telling of this Parable with What man among you, it was to show their own hypocrisy and their inconsistency. It is a challenge to see what they would do in this situation. Would they not forsake the ninety-nine sheep to go and look for the one lost sheep till they had found it? Once they had found the lost sheep would they not go home rejoicing? And would they not invite their friends to come and rejoice with them that they had found the sheep that was lost?

Then in verse 7 Jesus made the point of the Parable. “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.” That there would be more rejoicing in heaven over the one sinner who repents than the ninety-nine that did not need repentance. This Parable shows the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the scribes that had grumbled against Him over associating with sinners. Jesus did not come to save the righteous but to minister to the lost. As we read in the Gospel of Mark. “And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark2:17) As Christians, followers of Christ, this is the attitude we are to have towards sinners.

There are other lessons we can learn from this Parable. God’s love is not just for those who have chosen to live in His ways but it is a seeking love. God is not just waiting for the lost to find Him but He is reaching out to them that they may come to know Him. The evidence of God’s seeking love is evident for all to see. God sent His only begotten Son into the world to save those who would believe in Him. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Jesus came not for the righteous but to seek and save those who were lost. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

It should not be a surprise to us, as we have His love within us that we are to seek and save those who are lost in this world. That we are planters of His Word that others can come to the truth as we have. That all may come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the commission that we as His servants and have been sent to do. “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

With God’s purpose to restore the relationship of men unto Himself there most certainly is joy in heaven when one turns from a sinful life to the righteousness of His Kingdom. Jesus said in this Parable there will be joy in heaven. God is certainly pleased with those who live in righteousness but there is more joy when one repents from this world and turns towards the Kingdom of Heaven. The alternative for the lost is eternal destruction and all, those in heaven and those of us here in the world, saints of His Kingdom should have the same and everlasting joy when one is saved.

Through God’s love for us we should have the same love for the sinner that they may also find salvation by the grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ. This is our purpose here and this is the work we have been called to do. “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (Philippians 2:1-2)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, March 23, 2017

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