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Luke 15

Jerry Zhang
Jerry Zhang
·

3 min read

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

This verse stuck out to me most:

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.Luke 15:7

This sounds extremely counter-intuitive. In the context of the 1 lost sheep out of 100, shouldn’t the shepherd be happy that he still has 99?

I’m just going to use some extra creative imagination here. Let’s say there was some supernatural disaster, like a storm or a hurricane or a tornado. Or whatever supernatural disaster exists where you live (we all have them). Once it strikes, the shepherd lost 1 sheep but still has 99. Shouldn’t that shepherd be grateful that he’s still alive, let alone still has 99 sheep?

But let’s step back for a bit. Jesus told this parable, which means we need to do our best to understand this from God’s point of view.

First of all, human powers are limited, so if a disaster strikes that causes us to lose one sheep, we may simply dismiss it as only one sheep. But God’s power is unlimited, so God certainly has the power to do more than us. However, it doesn’t make sense for Jesus to tell a parable that only applies to Him and not us.

So, moving on, here’s the second observation: Jesus uses the word lost. My intuition tells me that the word lost here means recoverable, that there’s still hope for that sheep. It’s not permanently lost, only temporarily.

Of course, if nobody attempts to look for that sheep, it would become permanently lost. But there’s still hope.

And because the Gospel is all based on hope, we as Christians are compelled to spread that hope in this dark and sinful world.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Nothing new here compared to the parable of the lost sheep.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

I had to look up the word prodigal. Here’s what Google says: spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.

Sounds like a pretty bad son if you ask me.

First of all, he asks for his inheritance while his father is still alive. That’s like saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead right now so I can take the things that you own.” Or, in short, “You’re dead to me.”

Ouch.

So the prodigal son runs off and, of course, squanders his inheritance. And when things got rough, he gets homesick.

He feels the shame and is willing to take a demotion just for the sake of being home.

Turns out that Dad has been missing his prodigal son forever! It’s just like the parable of the lost sheep. Dad doesn’t hesitate to go all-out in celebration at his prodigal son’s return. Specifically, Dad says, “he was lost, and is found”, confirming my definition of lost that I mentioned above. And finally, Dad’s long-awaited hope of seeing his prodigal son again becomes reality.

But then the other son gets jealous. Why should my stupid brother get such a big celebration? He’s a failure in life, but Dad treats him better than I. Should I have run off as well? Is that what it takes to get Dad’s attention?

And he openly complains about this. Dad responds like so:

Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.

See, the other son was trying to earn grace. Grace is not something earned–it is freely given. You can’t earn something you don’t deserve. We Christians often make that mistake–we try to earn our salvation by doing good works. But we’ve already been freely forgiven and should embrace that.

The Two Key Lessons

Lesson 1: Don’t be afraid to admit fault and ask for forgiveness. Even though the prodigal son committed heinous acts, he still eventually came around and admitted he was in the wrong. Having the courage to do this is the first step. It takes humility.

Lesson 2: We were all lost at some point in our lives. That moment of being found is the most joyous moment in our lives. But it’s really easy to forget this. Just like how the other son got jealous of the prodigal son’s top-notch treatment, we are also susceptible to forgetting how we were once lost and now found.

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Jerry Zhang

Programmer, YouTuber, and amateur musician. I like to write too!