(Post 5 of the Luke 15:1-7 series of 5) As I wrote a sermon on this passage a few years ago from the vantage point of the ninety-nine—The Ninety-nine, Including Fred, I envied the one lost lamb.
“Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear him. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable: “Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent” (Luke 15:1-7).
The lost lamb is getting the attention: the shepherd (God) found him, placed him safely on his shoulders, and rejoiced. A party was called together on account of that lamb. “There is more joy in heaven over the ONE than over ninety-nine….” From the vantage point of the ninety-nine, I suppose I have felt like the older brother in Jesus’ related parable in Luke 15:11-32: “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in” (vss. 25-28).
Some might ask me, “You want to become lost again, so you can be found, and get the attention of God the Shepherd?!” Not really, as that would mean I would be in a pretty dark place. However, admittedly, I, and all other children of God, have at one time been that lost lamb. At that time, we decided to repent and receive God’s gifts of grace, forgiveness, and salvation.
This lost lamb is in a good place—worthy of the rejoicing because when the shepherd came, he didn’t resist; he repented!
Honestly, it’s good to be of the ninety-nine. But also, the rejoicing upon, including in heaven, that is experienced by the one lamb is something I hope everyone can experience sometime. Indeed, each of us can….Searching? Consider this…