Luke 15:1 ¶ Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:3 ¶ So he told them this parable:
Luke 15:4 “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?
Luke 15:5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Luke 15:6 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.’
Luke 15:7 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.
Alright, put your Bible trivia hats on. When you see “Luke 15,” you know you are getting into some parables.
You know how in our culture we feel like political issues have 2 extreme sides and it’s hard to find a home when you are somebody that sees things from a 3rd perspective? Ancient rabbis, when they really wanted to get a point across, taught by telling parables in threes! You’d get three ways of looking at something to help you see it for what it is.
Jesus tells three parables in a group to help the pharisees understand why He is befriending “tax collectors and sinners.” These folks would have been really offensive to the religious people of the day. The thing is, they would have also been offensive to any patriotic person. So with all of the talk of Christian Nationalism going on, when you read “tax collectors and sinners,” understand that to the Pharisees, this was a religious and a political violation.
These people were disgusting to anyone that loved YHWH, His people, His temple, or His Torah. Serious.
Sheep are Important to a Shepherd
(The story of the shepherd breaking the sheep’s leg to keep it from running off isn’t historically verifiable, and it paints a strange picture of God, so I’m not claiming that.)
What Jesus is saying is that It would be worth leaving 99 well-behaved sheep to save one that runs off. It’s worth letting the 99 take care of themselves and finding the lost one that needs to be found.
If the Pharisees acknowledge that sheep are that important, how much more so people! This is why evangelism, mission, and outreach are at the core of the Christian life. This is why Matthew immediately invited all of his tax-collector and sinner friends to dinner with Jesus.
And man, when you find that lost sheep, you are so happy. Happy like finding your lost dog at the animal shelter. Happy like finding your lost kid at the mall.
That’s God. He’s so happy to find lost people.
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