When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ – Luke 15:6
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Luke chapter 15 has a set of three parables that are very well-known. We read about the joy of those who find what was lost and the joy in heaven due to the sinner that repented. It is interesting that the Gospel of Luke has more words connected to joy than any other.
Chapter 15 opens with the setting of tax collectors and sinners eating with Jesus. The Pharisees and scribes murmured because Jesus was having meals with those that were outside respectable society. The rest of the chapter flows from this setting. In the first ten verses of Chapter 15 we read two parables about two lost items: a sheep and a coin. Those who seem lost, can still be saved. The public celebration and joy when a sinner repent is very prominent from this section.
Throughout Scriptures, the Lord is compared to a shepherd. Jesus also calls himself the good shepherd in John 10:11- “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” In the first parable in Luke 15, the shepherd does not wait for the sheep to come back. Instead, he actively searches for his lost sheep. Maybe he was also calling the sheep while searching. What a joyous moment when he does find the one lost sheep. The shepherd does not rejoice alone. He invites his friends and neighbours to rejoice with him. All about this one lost sheep. This parable brings indeed a message of hope.
The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep while searching for the lost one. Jesus illustrates that one sheep is important, no matter what. As we read in Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”
After the lost sheep is found, the shepherd does not punish the sheep. Depending on how long this sheep was lost, it is probably very tired, thirsty and even hungry. But the shepherd places the sheep upon his shoulders and carries him back. This illustrates the compassion of the shepherd. We can always trust Jesus to help us carry our burdens and give us rest (Matthew 11:28-29). Then there is the invite by the shepherd to rejoice with him. Unlike the Pharisees' murmuring, we should be rejoicing when a lost sinner repents.
In John 10:27-28 we read: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” The good Shepherd gives us eternal life. As long as we are part of His flock and follow Him. Also, our Shepherd is always near. Whether we are in the green pastures, the waters, among enemies or in the valley. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me" (Psalm 23:4).
Reflection on Luke 15:1-10 by Hanne Teach
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