Parable of the Lost Sheep
Verse 1 – Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near Him to hear Him.
Verse 2 – And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Verse 3 – So He spoke this parable to them, saying:
Verse 4 – “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
Verse 5 – “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Verse 6 – “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’
Verse 7 – “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
Before we came to Christ, we were that one lost sheep. Christ looked for us and sought us out. He was controlling the circumstances that lined everything up to bring us in His path. You didn’t by chance, just happened to go to church “that day,” or wherever you were when you were born-again. It was a divine plan to bring you into the fold – the family of God.
Notice another thing in these verses: When the shepherd found the lost sheep, “he placed him on his shoulders.” He did not put it on its own legs to go alone; there was no rebuke of “Why did you run off?” The shepherd bears their weight and their weakness, to safety. They are no longer in danger and he carries them as if a trophy and great victory.
All of heaven celebrates when one sinner repents, shouldn’t we do the same? Are you still interested in seeing the lost saved, or have you lost your zeal of what it’s like to be forgiven?
Verse 8 – “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and seek diligently until she finds it?
Verse 9 – “And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’
Verse 10 – “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
All of God’s creation is precious and valuable to Him. He grieves over every loss and rejoices whenever a child is brought into the kingdom. Perhaps we would have more joy in our churches if we shared Jesus’ love and concern for the lost!
We don’t live unto ourselves. We are to live our lives as an example to a lost and dying world, so that they too can have eternal life with the King of Kings.
Verse 11 – Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.
Verse 12 – “And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me,’ So he divided to them his livelihood.
It was not unusual for a father to disburse the estate before his death. The oldest son – first-born, would receive a double portion, so this son asking for his portion received one-third of the inheritance. This son showed his arrogance and disregard for his father’s authority and head of the family, by initiating the division of the estate.
Verse 13 – “And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
This sets the state for which a sinner is in; away from the family, away from God, and away from any feeling of guilt for how he is living.
Verse 14 – “But when he has spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
Sin brings man to a starving and famishing condition. They have no desire for the word of God, but despise it. A regrettable person is in “want” of everything that is good; wisdom, knowledge, grace, holiness, all the necessaries of life, because sin is the beginning of “want.”
Verse 15 – “Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
This young man had hit “rock-bottom.” To feed and tend to pigs was humiliating and degrading. Self-righteousness can be compared to swine because of selfishness; doing all they do for themselves, and not for God and His glory. They prefer dung over pearls.
Verse 16 – “And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
Is not this the place most of us found ourselves before coming to our senses and turning towards Christ? All must come to a place in their lives where we realize, “This ain’t working!” That is where this young man was. He had nothing and no one was helping him with anything. Alone, we can do nothing about a situation.
Verse 17 – “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Verse 18 – ‘I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,
Verse 19 – and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ‘
True repentance has to be a realization of wrong living. A rebellious heart leads to sinful actions. One must come to the conclusion, “There is a better life.” This young man had to admit to himself first that he had sinned! If you can’t admit that you’ve sinned, then you won’t truly repent.
Verse 20 – “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
Once a person realizes they have been living in sin, then they have to do something about it! They come to the Father. Like the father in this story, God waits patiently for us to come to our senses.
verse 21 – “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
The son didn’t finish by saying, “Make me a servant,” because a son is still a son. Galatians 4:6, 7 – And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba Father!” (Verse 7 ) Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Verse 22 – “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.
When a sinner repents, God doesn’t beat them up with their past! He gives forgiveness, grace, and love! Most people know their past sins, and they don’t need to be reminded how bad they’ve lived. Our God is not a God of the past. He creates in us a new heart, a new way of thinking, and a new way to love. That’s what this father did for his son by celebrating to the fullest all the love he had for him.
Verse 23 – ‘And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;
Verse 24 – ‘for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
We are considered dead in spirit until we are born-again. Colossians 2:13 – and you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,…
Verse 25 – “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
Verse 26 – “So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
Verse 27 – “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.
Verse 28 – “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.
This older brother represents the Pharisees attitude toward sinners. New converts need the support and love of the body of Christ so that they will continue to grow in Christ. This older brother was a scathing rebuke of the Pharisees self-righteousness.
Verse 29 – “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandments at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.
Verse 30 – ‘But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
Verse 31 – “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.
Unforgiveness will breed bitterness. Envy of someone’s blessing will only cause strife. Learn to forgive others as the Father has forgiven you.
Verse 32 – ‘It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive, and was lost and is found.
Don’t ever be resentful when sinners are welcomed into the kingdom, no matter what their past is. Remember, we were one too. How easy it is for some to resent God’s gracious forgiveness of others whom we consider to be far worse sinners than ourselves. But when our self-righteousness gets in the way of rejoicing when others come to Jesus, we are no better than the Pharisees.