Not One Left Behind
Luke 15:1-7 GNT
1 One day when many tax collectors and other outcasts came to listen to Jesus,
2 the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law started grumbling, “This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them!”
3 So Jesus told them this parable:
4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them – what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it.
5 When you find it, you are so happy that you put it on your shoulders
6 and carry it back home. Then you call your friends and neighbors together and say to them, ‘I am so happy I found my lost sheep. Let us celebrate!’
7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.
This is the parable of the lost sheep told by Jesus when the self-acclaimed religious people get critical about Jesus being friendly with outcasts, people who are out of the church community.
I love this parable and each time I read and study it, I will start to imagine and visualize how the parable unfolds. The one part that challenges me is when Jesus asked, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them – what do you do?” Honestly, by my own thinking and natural reaction, I will not respond the way the shepherd does in the parable. I will probably just stay home since I still have got the rest of the ninety-nine sheep. It does not make economical sense to head out just for one sheep. Since that sheep chose to wander away, it deserves to be out there living by its own means then. So, I should just stay home and maybe, just maybe, the sheep will somehow find its own way back. This is probably how I will respond. Come to think of it, such thinking resembles what the Pharisees and teachers of the law in the parable think.
Yet, in the parable, Jesus puts it that it is the natural response that the man should and must and will go out in search of the one lost sheep. Jesus wants us to know that this is what a loving and responsible shepherd does. Jesus is reminding us that it is His will and desire that not even a single sheep must be lost. Jesus is teaching us that His work is not done as long as you and I know there is just one more sheep out there that is not in the sheep flock.
So does it mean that God loves the lost more than He loves those who already are believers? No, my friends!
Imagine a father with two children at a theme park and he loses one of them in the crowd. At this point, which child does the father love more? We are tempted to say he loves the one who is lost more. No doubt the father will give all he can to look for the lost child, leaving the other one in the care of the mother or someone he trusts, truth is, he loves both as much for both are his children. But because one child is lost and not by his side and may be in danger, this lost child becomes his priority at that moment.
My friends, God loves us who are His children and disciples, immeasurably with His everlasting love. But as long as there are still lost sheep around, they are His priority. And therefore, they should also be your and my responsibility.
We must be like the man in the parable. Every day, look at the people around us and see the one who has not known Jesus. Then, go all out and do all we can to share the Gospel with this person, demonstrate the love and power of Jesus to him or her. Be like the man in the parable who carries the lost sheep on his shoulders all the way home. We must keep sharing, keep praying, keep encouraging, keep loving until we lead the person to know Jesus, is part of our church family, baptized and growing as a disciple of Christ. Know that we have Christ in us Who empowers us each step of our way.
Who are you bringing home today?
Let us pray together.
“Heavenly Father, I give thanks to You for the people who while I was still lost and away from You, shared the Gospel with me and led me to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Thank You for Your great love that was seeking and pursuing me before I even realized it. Thank You that Your great love for me never changes. In response to Your love, in worship and thanksgiving unto You, I commit to share Your Gospel of love and salvation to the people who do not yet have a relationship with You. I live my life with Your priority for the lost as my priority. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”