Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “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? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 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.
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Comment: Noses are there for a purpose. But they are not to be used to look down on other people! And that is exactly what the righteous bigots did to Jesus because he was friendly to those considered to be ‘beneath them’. So Jesus told them two very pointed stories, not gently but powerfully.
If you are a shepherd your money is invested in sheep not as happens these days in a bank. In this day of internet banking I check my balance on a pretty regular schedule and once found someone to have been able to get into my account and steal from me. Immediately I followed up and was glad to get it sorted out with little loss. The shepherd counted his sheep – one was not in the sheep pen. So a search solved the problem and the shepherd had a story to tell with great joy around the camp fire that night. The end of that parable is an exaggeration. At this moment the found lost one is the centre of jubilation, but what about the not lost ones? There is still great joy in them not having strayed away. Or is there a hint that in their self-righteousness, they may be lost and not realize it?
And if you’re into money and not sheep, the second story repeats and highlights the joy which all heaven has at the lost (the sinner) being found and brought back to God. So whether lost by a definite choice or even if it has just happened, (the sheep chose to wander, the coin was just lost), they are sought and when they are found the joy is real.
Prayer: Jesus, You told ‘children stories’ often and preached sermons occasionally. Help me to listen to both.