Walking in Truth Devotional Update
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
The situation in which Jesus is speaking can be seen in Luke 15:1–2. “Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them’” (NIV).
Jesus began by asking the people for their opinion: ‘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? 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 15:3-7).
Then Jesus focused on the shepherd of the sheep. He says that a good shepherd will leave the ninety-nine and search for the one lost lamb. The religious leaders would have responded properly to a sheep being lost, but on the other hand, they did not understand the value of a lost soul, evidenced by the fact that they murmured against Jesus when He taught and sought after the souls of men who had gone astray.
A shepherd understood that a sheep that had strayed from the flock was defenseless and in grave danger. Jesus understood this principle regarding mankind. When a person is lost and separated from the Lord because of his/her sins and transgression (Isa. 59:1-2; cp. Eph. 2:1-3) the Lord knows that such a person is groping aimlessly in darkness and needs to be rescued. The shepherd in the parable didn’t despise his straying sheep and with a heart of compassion went to rescue it. Our Lord also with a heart of compassion values each lost sinner.
It is a humbling reminder that God is not just interested in us but also in those who do not know Him. After Jesus reveals Himself to be the Good Shepherd who lays His life down for the sheep, He goes on to say, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16).
Instead of murmuring about our Lord’s association with the publicans and sinners, they should have been rejoicing that men lost in sin were being brought back to God. It is not the will of God that any should perish. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward [a]us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
“The Early Church believed this parable was a reference to Jesus Himself. Jesus left Heaven and, like the shepherd in the parable, came to earth to seek and to save that which was lost. The early Christians of the First and Second Centuries were so convinced this parable was about Jesus that they often used the image of a shepherd carrying a lamb across his shoulders as the graphic to depict Him. In ancient catacombs in Rome where early Christians once gathered to worship and pray, painted images of a shepherd carrying a lamb, representing Jesus, are still visible on the walls.”
Jesus ends this beautiful story with the following statement: “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” So, when a sinner repents, Jesus sees this as a time for Heaven to celebrate! He calls on all of Heaven’s inhabitants to celebrate every time a sinner is saved! Consider the profound action that transpires when a soul doomed to eternal destruction is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. It’s no wonder that Jesus wants all of Heaven to join with Him in throwing a celebration!
What is our attitude toward the lost and dying sinners?
By Guy Roberson
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