Now all the tax-collectors and "outsiders" were crowding around to hear what he had to say. The Pharisees and the scribes complained of this, remarking, "This man accepts sinners and even eats his meals with them." So Jesus spoke to them, using this parable: "Wouldn't any man among you who owned a hundred sheep, and lost one of them, leave the ninety-nine to themselves in the open, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will put it on his shoulders with great joy, and as soon as he gets home, he will call his friends and neighbors together. 'Come and celebrate with me,' he will say, 'for I have found that sheep of mine which was lost.' I tell you that it is the same in Heaven; there is more joy over one sinner whose heart is changed than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need for repentance." (Luke 15: 1-7)
When you were a child, did you ever have a kaleidoscope? Those marvelous toys changed form, pattern, and colors with a slight movement of the wrist. This parable is pretty much like it. While studying it, I discovered that commentators derive from it several meanings. So, there may be more than one interpretation, but certainly one will be closer to the idea that Jesus had in mind when he told it to the people.
When the Lord talks about the one sheep going astray, He is referring to a sinner, unconverted person. The Shepherd will do whatever it takes to rescue such an individual. This is something we don't find in any other religion. Our God is a loving God, who seeks sinners with the only purpose to save them.
Once Jesus finds that one person and saves him, He carries him on His shoulders and gathering His friends, celebrates. Every Christian can testify how joyful it is to know about the conversion of a sinner. We certainly rejoice with our Savior about it!
The parable also teaches us about the joy of the angels in heaven for such an event. A celebration is made every time a single sinner turns from death to life.
The Lord, who previously left 99 sheep in the open to rescue the one lost, makes a comparison between the saved sinner and the 99 "righteous who need no repentance." There is more joy for that one single sheep, than for the remaining ninety nine.
In order to understand who these 99 sheep are, we need to ask ourselves if there is such a person in this world who has no need of repentance. The answer is no. "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God." (Romans 3: 10).
So, these kind of sheep don't event exist in this world! Some commentators affirm that these 99 sheep can only be God's angels, who remain in faithfulness to the Lord since the beginning of times, and have no need of repentance. They say that Jesus had to left them for a while, and come to earth to rescue sinners from hell.
I think that if this parable was directed to the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus had to have something in mind about them; so here is another possible meaning for those 99 sheep: In light of previous teachings of Jesus, these 99 sheep could also allude to the Scribes and Pharisees, who thought they were not sinful and have no need of repentance. The Lord had pointed out to them before, that they were ill but thought to be healthy. Jesus came to save sinners and not those who thought themselves righteous. "It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to invite the 'righteous' but the 'sinners' to change their ways." Jesus said. When we consider the possibility that the 99 sheep are unsaved, prideful Jews, then it makes sense that the angels rejoice more for one saved sheep, than for 99 self-righteous sheep.
Our Lord is a loving God. He goes out of His way to save every sinner in this planet. This brings a new opportunity to the lost and great joy to Christ, His people and His angels in heaven. What a privilege to serve such an amazingly loving God!
'Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called "children of God" and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. (1 John 3: 1)
I am a Christian. My passion is to know the Lord, and help others to understand His character and will. Read one of my blogs at: onetruthonegod.wordpress.com
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