By Pastor John Mateos Ong and Pastora Monique Lopez Ong
Luke 15:4-7 “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? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 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!’ 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.”
There were 100 sheep.
One was lost.
Shepherd left the 99 in the wilderness.
Did not stop until the sheep was found.
Laid it on his shoulders.
He rejoiced with friends.
What can we learn from this parable?
Our Purpose - v. 4 “What man of you...” What Jesus was actually saying was, “What kind of a man are you if you do this?” Our first purpose is to be a shepherd. The lost sheep had a shepherd, as mentioned in verse 4 - he had 100 sheep. Regardless of what education status you have or whether you come from a rich or a poor family, we are called to shepherd, albeit in different capacities because some are called to shepherd an entire church, a megachurch, some to shepherd at least their families or only one person. The Bible opens that up in Genesis, saying, God assigned us our purpose to subdue the earth. Shepherding is different from being a boss. The latter can simply call you out and ask you to do certain things, but a shepherd walks with you and guides you too. Our second purpose is to find the lost. Also in verse 4, it says “go after the one which is lost until he finds it.” If you had 100 sheep and you lose one, so many would say, “that is just 1, I still have 99.” But not God. When He sees that there is 1 lost, He calls out the shepherd. Our last purpose is to rejoice. Verse 6 says, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” When we find our own sheep or see other shepherds finding their, we must rejoice. Some churches or shepherds feel bad when they see that others have more sheep than they do. This should not be the case. When we see other churches flourishing, we should rejoice because ultimately, we all belong to One Great Shepherd and that is Jesus Christ. If He told this story and said it was not only one shepherd rejoicing when he found his sheep, but he also invited his friends to rejoice with him, then we should do the same.
His Priority - v. 4 “left the 99 in the wilderness.” While people would actually think that was not a wise move, leaving the 99 in the wilderness for the sake of 1, you have to see where he left them in the first place. The shepherd left them in an open field or pasture, a safe haven. Th reason why sometimes we cannot see the goodness is because we are always after the numbers. When sheep gather as a flock, they are more protected. The lone sheep that is lost is more susceptible to predators like wolves and lions waiting to “devour their prey.” Luke 15:7 says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Math does not make sense in this scenario. 99 is bigger than 1. But when we are talking about the lost versus the found, there is more value in 1 that is lost than all that have already been found. If you are out on a mission, you will not talk to someone who already knows Jesus. You will search and stop for the one who does not know Him. And that is when great rejoicing happens in heaven. There is a quote that goes, “Jesus leaving the 99 to find the 1 seems irrational and reckless until that one is you.” When you become the receiver, the one getting rescued because you could not rescue yourself, then it becomes a whole new ballgame. Have you experienced being in the mud and having nothing and then someone comes along and pulls you out? If you had addictions, battles with all forms of depression and sickness, and then suddenly, someone comes along and believes you are still worth it, that will change everything. Everybody matters and no one gets left behind.
The Promise - v. 4 “go after the the one until he finds it...” That is God’s promise. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will look for you until He finds you. And when He finds you, He will lay you on His shoulders. This is God’s form of taking care of you. Jesus’ dying on the cross for the salvation of the entire world, approximately 6 billion people, is not a bad deal. But what this parable is saying is that, even if Jesus had to die for just one person, that is you, He would still die on the cross.
Some people do not understand the gravity of this principle. That is why it is okay for them to sin over and over again. They say that Jesus died for you, but He did not die for me. It just so happened that I am here living in this world. That in itself is a very big lie of the enemy. That is what the enemy wants you to think. But Jesus would die even if you were the only person on this planet. Psalms 139:7-8 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in the depths, behold, You are there.” Even if you push God away, He is still going to pursue you like a very persistent suitor who loves you very much. He is going to use people, experiences, circumstances and even dreams. You will not be able to hide from His love.
God is amazing because in His promise, He has full passion. And when you have a passion, you will be willing to die for something that you love. In Luke 15, he says, “Until he finds it.” God shows how passionate He is about us. This one is so powerful because you have to understand His heart. If you have the heart of God, being connected with Him as you are shepherding others, you want to make sure that you will not stop until you find them.
Jesus came for a rescue mission. He will protect us. Verse 5 says, “and when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders.” Why does the shepherd need to do this? If you have experienced losing something, you will take great precautions not to lose it again. It is like saying, “I lost you once, I will not lose you again.” In John 10:28-30, Jesus says, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” Once you receive Jesus, it is very difficult to lose Him. Once you turn to Him, He will do everything in. His power not to lose you.
Are the lost important? Of course they are! Jesus gave us 3 parables in a row about it. The Prodigal Son, The Parable of the Lost Coin are the other 2. Luke 15:1-2 says, “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So many righteous people were looking at Jesus and asking why He is eating with sinners. This is probably why Jesus used the shepherd and this parable. The pharisees and scribes who were familiar with Ezekiel 34 were seeing Jesus fulfilling what it actually says. The parallelism of Ezekiel 34 and Luke 15 show why.
Jesus sheep are scattered everywhere and nobody was looking for them. God sent Him to find His sheep for Himself since nobody else was looking for them. And that is why He is eating with sinners. When He finds them, that is not the end of the story. He will make sue that He will take care of them. When they are sick, broken or weak, he will take care of them, heal them and strengthen them. Brokenness refers to the relationship between the father and the son, not actual broken bones, which is the common misconception. That is what needs to be bound so it does not break free again. Jesus will not only rescue you. He will bring you home.
Let us look at the differences in the parables. In the Lost Sheep, the shepherd had 99 and 1 was lost and there was much rejoicing in heaven when the 1 was found. In the Lost Coin, the woman had 10 and she lost 1, and when it was found, the angels rejoiced. In the Prodigal Son, the ratio was 1:1 and the father rejoiced when his son came back. But actually, the ratio was 0:2 because the righteous son was also very lost. He did not realize that he had everything and kept looking for what he did not have. He did not realize that he was a true son thus, being lost too.
God actively seeks to bring everyone into His kingdom with the same kind of passion whatever the ratio may be. Only those who recognize that they are actually lost gets to enter the kingdom of God. Through these parables, we can see that the kingdom will not be made up of perfect people but of repentant sinners.
God wants His kingdom to be filled with all the lost coming home. This is the work of all the churches working unanimously. God’s heart is for the lost. And jesus, just before ascending into heaven, gave us the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” It can be summarized in 4 words:Go and make disciples. The word disciple is only found 5 times in the Bible. 4 times in the book of Matthew and a single one is mentioned in the book of Acts, which was also written by Luke. In the same manner, The Parable of the Lost Sheep is also only found in the book of Luke and not in the other 3 gospels.
There is a table that God sets and He is inviting everyone to have a meal with Him so that you can experience the true meaning of your purpose, of His passion and of His promises. You are invited to that table. Come as you are, as a sinner. Once you sit at the table and have a touch of Jesus, you will never be the same.