Sunday – March 3, 2019
Word On Worship – Sunday – March 3, 2019
So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing”.
From early in the book of Luke, the Pharisees chaffed over Jesus’ association with sinners, and the mood of joy and celebration which dominated the scene of His eating together with them. The Pharisees found no joy in repentance of sinners at all. What was it that caused them such pain to have Jesus associating with sinners and enjoying them?
Jesus began by directing His critics’ attention to their own attitudes and actions as it related to a lost sheep. Which one of them, if they owned 100 sheep, would not leave the 99 to search for but one lost sheep? After a diligent search, would they not rejoice greatly at finding the one lost sheep? Would they not tenderly put the sheep on their shoulders, lovingly carrying it back to the fold, rather than “kicking it back,” scolding it all the way? And would they not then let their friends know of their success and have them over to celebrate the finding of the one lost sheep?
The assumption is that every one of the Pharisees would have responded to the loss and finding of one sheep just as Jesus suggested. In a similar way, Jesus added, all of heaven rejoices over the repentance of one lost sinner. Heaven, too, rejoices more at the repentance of one lost sinner, more than over the 99 “righteous” who seemingly did not need to repent. When you think about it, the parable of the lost sheep presents us with some haunting questions. Would it be wise, even profitable, for a man to put 99 sheep at risk, leaving them unprotected in an open field, to search for one lost lamb? That is not good economics. It is a very sentimental story, but once the reality of it sets in it just doesn’t seem to square with real life.
The Pharisees cared very much for that which was lost, and they rejoiced greatly concerning the recovery of what was lost. The critical difference between Jesus and the Pharisees is they cared about possessions, while Jesus cared about people. The Pharisees were hypocrites. They grumbled that Jesus could gladly receive back repentant sinners and rejoice in their salvation, yet they would diligently search for lost possessions and celebrate when they found them. You see, we tend to appraise sin (and “sinners”) by merely external standards and criteria. Jesus always looked at the heart. We quickly grant that stealing, murder, rape, and violence are wrong, especially when they are perpetrated on us. But Jesus goes on to show us in the gospels that prayer, giving, preaching, or showing charity can be sinful, when the motive of the heart is wrong.