Today’s reading:  Luke 15:4-7, Psalm 121

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he 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 15:4-7).

Our text for today begins in verse 4 of Luke 15. In order to understand Jesus’ message in context of what was going on, however, we really need to go back to the first 3 verses of Luke 15.  The Pharisees and scribes were grumbling at Jesus because he was interacting with sinners.  Jesus’ message to the religious leaders through the parable of the lost sheep was not just that it was permissible to interact with sinners, but that rescuing sinners was his core mission.  It was his entire purpose.

Would you take time to reflect with me on three primary truths from this parable?

Sin separates us from God – Like sheep separated from their shepherd, separation from God is a dangerous place for us to be. We need a good shepherd, a savior.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Jesus chose to make a way for us, even though we don’t deserve it – The shepherd didn’t despise his straying sheep, neither does Jesus despise sinners. He willingly sacrificed his own life to make a way for us to be reconciled to God.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:14-18).

God celebrates when sinners repent – The shepherd didn’t punish the sheep who had gone astray, rather he called his friends and neighbors to celebrate the sheep’s homecoming. Similarly, God isn’t up there waiting to drop the hammer on us for all the wrongs we’ve committed.  His greatest desire is for us to be in fellowship with him.  He sent Jesus as the sacrifice to make that happen.  All of Heaven rejoices every time a sinner declares faith in Jesus Christ.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind, but now I see.  – John Newton, 1779