Jesus told a parable. For those disciples who had been following Him, they had grown accustomed to his teaching style. Yet they were always challenged with the content of what He had to say, often times asking Him to clarify or for the meaning. It would be fair to say that His parables brought consternation to some while confusion to others. His teachings were also difficult to accept at times, because it meant turning from some traditional customs that the Jewish culture had adopted along the way.
On this particular day, Jesus began to tell another series of parables. His audience, the disciples of course, but there were also tax collectors and others that some identified as ‘sinners’. Jesus began his parable with a relatable statement; “suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them…” Immediately Jesus begins by drawing these tax collectors and ‘sinners’ into His tale. Immediately He is helping them identify with the content of His story. Immediately the implications are that this parable is for them. Not a ‘for them’ which implies a tale of condemnation, but rather a ‘for them’ which implies compassion and love and a deep longing to restore a right relationship with them to the Father.
In a moment, as Jesus begins to speak, they are held spell-bound, eyes locked on the Teacher…ready to hear His tale. “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?” Imagine if you will, Jesus speaks this phrase and He gazes intently into each face of those who had gathered around Him. They were the lost sheep that Jesus was talking about. They were pariahs of society, and by choice and some by vocation had lost their way.
Jesus wanted them to know the extent in which the Father would go to find His lost ones in this world! Every soul, every lost child was that important to God the Father. Jesus was sent on this mission. He even said it in His own words; “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) The lost were right in front of the One doing the saving…they didn’t realize how lost they were but Jesus did. This wasn’t some guilt trip or a brow beating by Jesus, but a message of love and compassion and care. Jesus looked into the very eyes of the lost sheep and hoped that they would let Him rescue them.
He finishes His parable with these words; “And when he finds it (the lost sheep) 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 no need to repent.” (Luke 15:1-7)
Think of it, He places the lost sheep on His shoulders and carries them home. Isn’t that what He has done for us too? Those who had gathered there to listen were lost. They needed someone to pick them up and carry them home. Who would go to them, the outcasts…the sinners? Jesus sought them out when all other religious leaders of the day sought out nothing but selfishness, power and condemnation. Jesus brought salvation to them, and all they had to do was repent.
Are you lost? Can you recall when Jesus came to you? All of heaven rejoices in the salvation of the lost. And when they are found again, there is peace and there is hope in the arms of the One who seek us. Our response to being found is repentance and allowing the Good Shepherd to carry us home.