The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 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 that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Observations and Reflections
The anger that the Pharisees display towards Jesus is particularly sad because they mischaracterize Jesus and his intentions. They are accusing him of fraternizing with sinners when what he is really doing is bringing them to the Lord. There is a real difference and that is the genesis for this parable about the lost sheep(s). Moreover, the accusations thrown at Jesus are not even part of the Jewish law.
That being said, the parable stands on it own. The lesson is somewhat universal. We should be seeking to bring the lost back home, not cursing them and everyone else by association. We will never bring the lost to the Lord by condemning them and casting them out of society. We must go in search of those who are lost.
Jesus always had an answer to the opposition that He faced from the Pharisees. They were always looking for a reason to find fault in Him or to trip Him up over His words and teachings.
Here Jesus once again meets them with a profound lesson that debunks their legalistic notions on how to approach and live out the Gospel. The lesson He teaches them is on the value of a lost soul being saved compared to a whole group of believers that do not need saving. Jesus’s mission on earth was to save lost souls through the message of the Gospel. What truly mattered to Him was not His reputation looked like when He was associating with sinners, it was being able to reach as many as He could with God’s love and grace.
The point of this parable is to showcase that God’s love is extended to one and all and that He values each and every single, individual person. He will continually pursue each and every one of us because His desire is to see us be saved from eternal punishment and spend eternity with Him.
He cares for every soul and rejoices when even just one of us, comes to understand and accept the message of the Gospel. His love for us extends beyond any other love that we have ever experienced. The Shepherd left his flock to pursue the one lost sheep and did not stop until he found it. Jesus Christ pursues us in the same way and His love was extended to the point in which He gave up His very life for the sake of saving ours.