Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, 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.
Reflection – Wes Jeffcoat
I helped Patsy’s dad on their farm from my preteens until after we were married. One thing that was done regularly was feeding the cows. Now the cows were in open pastures and once or twice a week we would feed them. This was not because they were starving; there was enough grass in the fields. We would use the feeding to “call up the cows.” We would do this by entering the pasture and blowing the horn on the truck, and the cows would come running-to get the feed. By “calling up the cows,” we were able to check on their well being, but mostly we did this to count. We would usually count more than once to make sure they were all present. If one was missing (lost), we would go looking for it. This was not an enjoyable task, but one that had to happen. I would walk through thick woods, briars, muddy bogs, crossing creeks, and who knows how many snakes I walked by, but the cow had to be found. Not once did Patsy’s dad say, “It’s alright, he’ll find his way back.” And yes, I was glad when the lost cow was found and brought back.
Jesus as our shepherd is routinely calling us, checking on us, and if we are not there, he continues to call us and is not satisfied until we are found. Then, he celebrates. In the parable, he celebrates not because the 99 stayed, but the one that was lost was found. Jesus wants all people to be saved, not lost. He welcomes all. In verse 2, the Pharisees said “this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” The most important word in that verse is “welcomes”. He does not just acknowledge the existence of sinners, but he invites them to become a part of his community.
If we see ourselves as the lost sheep, we find comfort in knowing that no matter how lost we may be, the shepherd is seeking us and ready to welcome us back. If we see our self as the shepherd, we likewise should be seeking the lost (sinners) and welcome them in to our lives.