Luke 15: 1-7
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.
2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
3 So Jesus told them this story:
4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?
5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.
6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
The story sheds light on the celebratory atmosphere in heaven when even just one sinner confesses his sin and repents. The parable of the Lost Sheep also illustrates God’s profound love for you!
99 and Counting
Jesus spoke in metaphors using a parable to bring home this point. This parable is no exception.
The ninety-nine sheep in the story represent self-righteous people—the Pharisees. These people keep all the rules and laws but bring no joy to heaven.
God cares about lost sinners who admit they are lost and turn back to him. So, likewise, the Good Shepherd seeks after people who recognize they are lost and need a Saviour.
The Pharisees are arrogant and never recognize that they are lost.
Have you recognized that you are lost? Have you realized yet that you need to closely follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to make it home to heaven instead of going your way?
Lost and Found
Jesus spoke to a group of tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees, and teachers of the law. These people taught the masses and led them astray with false teaching by twisting the scriptures. Jesus wanted to show them what God is like and far removed from a harsh God they taught about.
He asked them to imagine having a hundred sheep, and one of them strayed from the fold. A shepherd would leave his ninety-nine sheep and search for the lost one until he found it.
When he found it, he then, with great joy in his heart, but the sheep on his shoulders, took it home and told his friends and neighbours to rejoice with him because he had found his lost sheep.
Jesus concluded by telling them there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.
But the lesson didn’t end there. Jesus went on to tell another parable of a woman who lost a coin. She searched her home until she found it (Luke 15:8-10). He followed this story with yet another parable, that of the lost or prodigal son, the stunning message that every repentant sinner is forgiven and welcomed home by God.
So, What Does the Parable of the Lost Sheep Mean for You?
The meaning is simple yet so profound that we often miss the truth.
We are lost humans who are in desperate need of a loving Saviour.
Jesus taught this lesson three times in succession to drive home his meaning., showing that God deeply loves and cares for each of us personally as a community and individuals.
We are so valuable to him, and he seeks you far and wide to bring you back home to him.
When the lost one returns, the Good Shepherd receives him back with joy, and he does not rejoice alone.
Points For Further Study
Sheep have an instinctive tendency to wander. Therefore, if the shepherd did not go out and seek this lost creature, it would not have found its way back on its own.
Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd in John 10:11-18, who not only searches for lost sheep (sinners) but who lays down his life for them.
In the first two parables, the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, the owner actively searches and finds what is missing.
In the third story, the Prodigal Son, the father lets his son have his way, but waits with much love and patience for him to come home, then forgives him and celebrates. Again, repentance is a general idea here.
As a point of interest, the parable of the Lost Sheep may have been inspired by Ezekiel 34:11-16:
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.
I will bring them back home to their land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live.
Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. I will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak…” (NLT)
Adapted from the Blog written by Zavada, Jack. “Parable of the Lost Sheep Bible Story Study Guide.” Learn Religions, Dec. 6, 2021, learnreligions.com/the-lost-sheep-bible-story-summary-700064.
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Paula Rose has a Bachelor of Pastoral Counselling and Theology, Vision Christian University, USA
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Paula Rose Parish is an author, and the founder, of Hope. Faith. Love. She studied at the University of Derby and received a Master of Arts in Counselling in Professional Development. Over the years Paula Rose has served as a pastor, chaplain, counsellor, coach and taught at Christian university, led workshops and retreats, and spoken worldwide on Christian spirituality. Author of over 100 articles and two books, Paula Rose continues to write on the spiritual life. Paula Rose is adding a string to her bow and is presently reading Health and Wellness. She has four grown children, five grandchildren, and lives in South Wales, UK.
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