XXVI. Teaching in Parables
105. Those Who Are Lost
1Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to Jesus.
2And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”a
3So he told them this parable: 4“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' 7Just 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.”
8“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.' 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Lk. 15:1–10) (continued)
a “And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”—Jesus answers this criticism by the Pharisees that he associates with sinners by telling three parables. They teach us God's attitude toward sinners, toward those who are lost in sin.
In The Lost Sheep the shepherd leaves his flock to go in search of a lost sheep; he rejoices greatly when the sheep is found. This parable teaches that God (and his Son) actually go in search of those who are lost. The fact that we are lost only increases God's interest. Another time Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” (See Ch. 111, Lk. 19:10.) We know that we must search for God, but The Lost Sheep reveals that God also searches for us, especially when we are lost.
Like The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin also teaches that God searches for those who are lost and rejoices when they are found; it emphasizes the diligence and thoroughness with which God conducts this search.
In The Lost Sheep the shepherd goes in search for the sheep that unintentionally went astray; The Lost Son (following page) depicts God's attitude toward a son who willfully and intentionally departs from his father's will and becomes lost in sin. It teaches that even when a son chooses the path of sin, the loving heavenly Father is ever willing to accept his son back into his family. This story, which so beautifully pictures the human condition and the Father's loving acceptance of an erring child, is perhaps Jesus' greatest parable.