The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. I tell you that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. -- Luke 15:4-7
The Scribes and Pharisees were outraged, and angry with Christ, because he ate and drank with sinners and tax collectors. Under Roman rule, the tax collectors were Jewish people who collected taxes for the Romans, so they were particularly looked down upon.
As the professed Messiah, the Jewish leaders expected that they would have all of his attention, and that he would treat the irreligious with the contempt that they themselves held for them. Instead, Jesus mingled with those who the Jewish leadership looked down upon, addressed them in his messages, and received with open arms any who came in penitence and faith. The parable of the lost sheep was intended to justify this course of action.
The endangered wanderer
The parable presupposes that a sheep in the fold wandered and was lost, a fit description of the condition of many people, and also has its origins in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53:6). Without Christ, mankind wanders.
- From the authority of God
- From the family of God
- In the way of peril and death
- Endlessly, without divine grace