All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”
So He told them this parable: “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’
I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.
There are two perspectives I must read this story from.
First, I must hear it as a potential Pharisee. The temptation to believe that I am righteous, to forget that I am a sinner, to point my finger at others who are tempted differently than I is always present. Temptation is always urging me to look down on another, to think more highly of myself than I ought, to stratify my sins and stamp others with a scarlet S.
If I want to create joy in heaven, if I want Christ chasing after me than I must admit my constant state of need. I must confess that without Him I am lost. There is nothing righteous about me. The gracious presence of the Spirit within is all I have of value, and He is not there because I am special in some way.
Second, I must read this story and ask, “How then shall I live?” Hanging with the 99 is also always a great temptation. The 99 are warm and comfortable. I feel safe in the large numbers. We are not lost and alone. We are in community together as a family.
Sadly though we are alone. Jesus left us to go and look for the lost. If we want to be with Him we must join His mission to find the lost sheep. Our calling is not to huddle into groups. It is to go, seek, find, and restore by calling people through love to right relationship with God (true righteousness) and right relationship with one another (justice).
Lord, thank you for loving me even though I am a mess. Never let me forget that my relationship with you is a gift of grace. Father, thank you for sending me. Teach me Lord to love like you love so that I might celebrate when others are restored to you.