“Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 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.” Luke fifteen:four-7………………….
The Pharisees and scribes, always obsessed with their appearance in front of others, arrogant and prideful, self-righteous and continually criticizing, judging, and condemning others, convinced they could obey the law perfectly and earn their way into God’s favor, got an earful from the Lord Jesus Christ when they railed on Him for spending time with the sinners and tax collectors. Jesus responded by telling them of the rejoicing and celebration that occur over one single “lost sheep” being found and brought home.
What a sweet little story about a man whose fluffy lovely little lamb goes missing and needs to be lovingly led home into the fold with the other precious little lambs, right? Think again! Is the lost little sheep simply tossed over the man’s shoulder and carried home? This isn’t an adorable heartwarming bedtime story, nor is it a tug-at-your-heartstrings story for adults about the joy of someone who has been far away from God coming home into His sheepfold. Yes the story is heartwarming! Yes the story tugs at our heartstrings! Yes a sheep who has wandered from the Good Shepherd comes home into His fold! Yes this is all cause for celebration! Yes God loves us so much that one single wandering sheep is worth the Lord going after, and is worth any of us going after to help lead into God’s fold. Yes Jesus is making loud and clear to the self-righteous Pharisees that even one of the worst of sinners matters dearly to Him. But please don’t miss something I missed for years in this story!
How does the lost sheep come home? How must we who are wandering far off from God come into His fold? How do we who are lost come home to Him? How do we who are already in God’s fold help others to come home to Him? Does Jesus simply throw us over His shoulders and lead us into the sheepfold? Do we in His fold simply go after lost sheep one by one and throw them over our shoulders and lead them to Jesus? What did I miss? THIS!
“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.” Luke 15:7 (bold added)
Who comes into God’s forever fold? Which “lost” sheep become Christ’s “found” sheep? Which wandering sheep, separated from God, are given an everlasting relationship with Him? Which missing sheep will spend now and forever in heaven with God? Which lost, wandering, separated, missing sheep will be in Christ’s glorious presence forevermore? The sheep who REPENT! Those who are genuinely sorry for their sin against God, who genuinely believe Christ is Lord and died on the cross to pay their sin penalty and was raised from the dead, who genuinely place their trust in Him as Lord, who genuinely commit their lives to God and His ways, who genuinely come into God’s forever family. When is there cause for celebration? When the lost sheep TURNS away from this world and its wickedness, away from a lifestyle riddled with sin, away from a life of wickedness and living for self, and TURNS to Christ as Savior and to Christ as LORD of all! ‘
Dear sheep, if you are in Christ’s sheepfold, please go and share the Gospel message to help bring lost sheep into His fold. Dear sheep, if you are lost, wandering, separated, and missing, far from God and headed for eternity apart from Him in hell and the lake of fire, repent, believe Jesus is Lord and died for you and was raised from the dead, and commit your life utterly to Him that you, too, may come home into His fold and begin helping others to do the same!