Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Roman 5:8)
Jesus, Son of God, was always merciful and full of love to especially those who are suffering and lost in this world. He healed the sick, and forgave sinners. He was with those who were rejected, and He comforted them. He was friends to them, and ate together. One time Jesus was eating with tax collectors. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees saw what Jesus did, and asked His disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12b)
Why did people hate the tax collectors? They were, in fact, singled out from the ordinary sinners by being labeled as “tax collectors.” First, they collected taxes from people for the Romans. They worked for the Romans although they were the same Jews. To the eyes of the Jews, they were the traitors, who worked for the enemy of the Jews. Additionally, they were dishonest. They skimmed off the taxes collected from their fellow Jews, and gave the rest to the Romans. They dishonestly enriched themselves, which was a terrible sin. The tax collectors were, in fact, both traitors and sinners, not ordinary sinners. No Jews liked the tax collectors. Even so, Jesus found the tax collectors, and He ate together although all Jews avoided them. Not only associating with the tax collectors, Jesus also gave them the secret of the kingdom of God. As matter of fact, Matthew, one of His twelve disciples was a tax collector. His mercy and love were bigger than the hate of all Jews together against the tax collectors.
Once more, the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus while eating together. Then the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus heard the criticism of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Jesus, who was also merciful to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, opened up his mouth and started teaching the secret of the kingdom of God. In this case, He used a parable so that even the Pharisees and the teachers of the law could understand the secret.
There was a man who had one hundred sheep. He loved his sheep so much. He watched over the sheep always. He took them to a green pasture, and guide them besides still waters so that they could have eat well, drank water, and took a rest. All of his sheep were happy and healthy. All of the sheep closed followed the man wherever he went. The man also treated each of the sheep as his own child. One day, he decided to move his sheep to a better place for his sheep. The man and the sheep went together, and they had to travel quite a distance. After the trip, the man and the sheep arrived the destination safe. All looked good to the man, and his sheep were also. Even so, to make sure, he started counting his sheep.
One, two, three, …. He kept counting. Ninety one, Ninety two, … Ninety nine. Ninety nine! There was one missing. Initially, he thought that he miscounted one. He counted again. He could count only ninety nine, not one hundred. He could not believe himself. Thus, he counted again and again. The end result was same. He could count only ninety nine, not one hundred. He realized that he missed one sheep, and the one lost sheep were out there alone being separate from him and the rest of his sheep. He started worrying about the one lost sheep and being filled with his pity on the lost sheep. He could not stay there and did nothing with the other sheep. As he looked at the ninety nine sheep happy and safe, his heart was racing for the missing sheep lost in the wilderness and in danger of wild animals.
Soon, he set out for searching for his lost sheep. He traced back to the path that he took with his sheep. He went up a high place and looked over the valleys. But he could not find the lost sheep. He went down to the valleys, and went through the valleys one by one. His lost sheep was not found in the first valley. The lost sheep was not in the second valley. He could not see the lost sheep in the third valley. It was quite disappointing, but he did not stop searching. He was persistent. His search for the lost sheep continued. The sun was getting lower, and he could not remember how many valleys that he actually went through. The one thing clear in his mind was that he could not stop searching for the lost sheep.
Finally, he reached a rocky place. With his staff, he carefully sifted through the rocky place while looking behind every rocks bigger than his sheep. He suddenly spotted something behind a big rock. It was his lost sheep! His sheep was terrified and hiding behind a big rock because she was separated from the rest of the sheep. She did not know where to go except being terrified. As soon as the man spotted the sheep being terrified, his heart was filled with pity and love on the sheep. The man quickly embraced the sheep in fear, and comforted the sheep. Then he put the sheep in his shoulder, and joyfully returned to the rest of the sheep. The lost sheep was suddenly in the bosom of the man in peace, and gone were the fear of wild animals and the terror of darkness as the sun got lowering.
The man was in great joy, and the sheep was happy too by being on her shepherd’s should. She knew she was about to join the rest of the sheep and be with them again as used to be. The man almost ran because he was in great joy. As he arrived, he called together his friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.” Then he prepared a big feast for his friends and neighbors, and talked about his journey of searching for the lost sheep, and the happiest moment of actually locating the lost sheep, which was in terror and fear of being alone while hiding behind a big rock. All heard his story of the lost sheep also joined the man’s joy. The once-lost sheep was found and happily with the rest of the ninety-nine sheep.
After all, we are the lost sheep. We did not know where to go, and in hear, we hide ourselves behind a big rock, but Jesus came to our lives to find us, who get lost. Then He opened up His loving arms, and embraced us in His bosom. Then He joyfully put us on His shoulder and carries to the kingdom of God, where Our Eternal Father God is. Additionally, He takes away all sins so that we can come to God without fear any more. Most of all, through Jesus, we can God as our Father. This is the secret hidden to all men who think righteous. But those who are humble and contrite heart about all sins committed found the Love of God through Jesus. How marvelous His love is, which is unfathomable! Thus, we always give thanks to God, and His mercy, and His Son Jesus Christ for His love of the lost in this world like us. The Holy Spirit continues guiding and protecting us along the journey to our Eternal Home. Yes, this is no other way except Jesus Christ. Through Him, the mysterious truth of salvation has begun in our lives, and now we are walking with Jesus moment by moment.
Let’s get back to the parable, and see how Jesus concluded His parable. After telling the parable, Jesus silently looked around the Pharisees and the teachers of the law for a while. They were puzzling before the wisdom of Jesus in the parable. While they were still parsing the true meaning of the parable, Jesus shared His joy of returning of one lost sinner, which is also the biggest celebration moment in Heaven. Why? Each one was so precious in the eyes of God like the man who was truly in joy after finding the one lost sheep.
In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! (Luke 15:7)
Yes, Jesus always looks for one lost sinner. However, how many of us do truly believe that we are completely lost and are terrible sinners who need to be found by Jesus? The Pharisees did not think they were lost and sinners. Instead, they thought that they were righteous, while they condemned the tax collectors as sinners. The teachers of the law knew the law well, and measured others’ sins with their knowledge on the law, but they did not know that they were sinners also.
Jesus, the merciful Lord,, loves all and offers His forgiveness to all. Some actually receives His mercy and forgiveness, while others have not. Why? Because they rely on their own righteousness over others like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.
Jesus always opened His arms and invites us to put us in His bosom in His love, and forgive our sins, and make us God’s children. If we think back, most of us now know how Jesus came into our lives and changed our lives completely. At that time, we did not search for Jesus, but Jesus actively chased down each of us even to the end of the world to rescue us from our eternal death caused by our own sins. If Jesus did not come into our lives, we know we would be at a totally different place by now. This is a common experience of all believers including me. This is the reason why we boldly proclaim Jesus and His love to others, and especially to those who are in fear, pain and agony of life. Then we encourage them while telling them not to fear and be in terror because Jesus surely searches out each one who are in terror and fear with His love like the man in the parable who searched out the one lost sheep. He did not stop searching till finding the lost sheep. Like the lost sheep being found by the shepherd, in the bosom of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, hear the loving voice of Jesus – “I love you as you are because you are my child. The pain, fear and terror of live is over. From now on, you are my beloved child to the end.” The lost sheep is now with the rest of the ninety-nine sheep in His kingdom to the end of this world and beyond till we arrive at our Eternal Home. Then we, His children, will all raise voices, and joyfully singing and praising His name forever.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)