In Luke 15, Jesus tells a series of parables about being found: one sheep out of a hundred, one coin out of ten, and one prodigal son who “was lost and has been found.” In each parable, an extraordinary effort is made for the sake of the one who is lost, an effort that seems disproportionate to the rest of the story.
A shepherd leaves 99 perfectly okay sheep behind to find one stray. A woman sweeps up her whole house to find a coin and throws a party for her neighbors when she does. And speaking of parties, a father puts on a blow-out fiesta celebration for a son who squandered his entire inheritance.
Why the imbalance? Surely it isn’t fair to the 99 sheep who stayed home! Surely the woman can make do with 9 coins out of 10! Surely the older brother deserves just as big a party as his irresponsible, prodigal sibling! I mean, come on! *Stamp foot indignantly*
Of course, as understandable as such indignation may be, it only serves to emphasize the larger lessons Jesus is teaching in these parables. He tells them in response to a challenge; namely, that he “welcomes sinners and eats with them” (v. 2). And rather than say simply, “Well, of course I do; that’s kind of why I’m here!” he tells a series of parables designed to help us figure that out for ourselves.
What we see is determined by where we are standing. Grace may create indignation for the 99 sheep who stay in the fold, but for the one who is lost, there is no greater bliss than realizing the shepherd has come looking for you!
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