Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he 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: 4-7 NIV
In this parable, Jesus is responding to an accusation made by the Pharisees about Jesus associating with sinners. His response indicates the depth of Jesus’ heart for those that are lost, the ones that are far from Him & the life He has for them. A few key things to note about this passage: 1. Jesus views those that have wandered away from His sheparding as lost, meaning His posture towards them is that they would be found. Jesus does not wait for you to follow Him to go after you - He is always pursuing the ones far from Him in hopes that they will come home to Him. 2. His response when a lost sheep comes home is celebration - the lost sheep is not met with condemnation or accusation but rather is carried home with joy!
This response by Jesus is significant because the concept of the “lost sheep” is relevant to all of us - whether we are in a place where we aren’t following God - where we have wandered and God really isn’t an active part of our life, or we have never chosen to follow Jesus, or if you are in a great place with your faith but you have family & friends who are lost. It is so important that we know Jesus’ posture towards those who wander & are lost - his position communicates the unwavering deep love and pursuit, the mercy & grace that we are met with when we let Jesus carry us home, the fact that there is a party instead of a shaming like many of us fear. This parable speaks to Jesus’ heart for the individual - He is willing to go after the one, every single one - you are no exception. This is also important for our personal perspective on the lost - to be wary to not become a Pharisee who refuses to welcome sinners or eat with them & look down on anyone doing so, but instead to become like Jesus - willing to go after the one.
If you are one of the 99, if you are free in the open country being led by your shepard - ask Jesus to give you His heart for the “one” in your life - that family member(s), that friend(s), that classmate(s), hallmate(s), sorority sister(s) that are still lost. Ask that He would give you a heart that longs for them to be found and fights for them to know Jesus’ posture towards them. If you are the one, if you are lost & wandering, afraid of what Jesus will say if you try to come home - look at His heart & let Him chase you, pick you up and carry you home to your celebration. Join the 99 in the open country and live the free life of being led by the shepard of abundance.
Jesus, I confess that my heart is prone to wander. Thank you for coming after me when I stray & when I get lost. I pray that you would bind my heart to you. Give me your heart for the lost in my communities & spheres of influence and show me how to partner with you in inviting them home. Amen.