Sunday Thoughts (Luke 15)
I learned a new way to ponder the parable of the lost sheep today at church:
At the beginning of Luke 15, it's important to note whom Jesus was addressing:
"Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine and go into the wilderness after that which is lost, until he find it? (Joseph Smith translation added).
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
(verse 7) I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
Consider: Who was/is the "one" and who was/is the "ninety and nine"? Why would Christ and heaven rejoice more over the one who strayed than the ninety nine who stayed with the flock? Is the one more important than the ninety and nine? Were the ninety and nine perfect?
When the shepherd left his flock to go after the one, he knew the flock would be safe because they were together.
All of God's children are loved and each has immeasurable individual worth. The ninety and nine were just as loved as the one, and the one was just as valuable to the shepherd as the ninety and nine.
Were the ninety and nine perfect? Only one has walked this earth who was perfect and without sin, and we know that was Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.
The Pharisees and scribes were always judging Christ. They saw themselves as "just" and stationed themselves above the commoners whom they saw as "sinners".
"...Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
We are all sinners and in some sense have lost our way. When we repent, we find ourselves and our way again. Thus, the heavens will always rejoice over us because we didn't allow our pride to stop us from repenting and turning away from sin.
If we think we are perfect and have a right to judge others, than we are missing the point of this parable.
Instead of judging others, we should extend love to them and accept them. It's important to remember that we all sin and we all need repentance. This is why a loving Father in Heaven gave us a Savior and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ. He was the only one who could save us from our sins. He atoned for our sins. This doesn't excuse us from our sins, and it doesn't save us in our sins, but allows us to repent and be cleansed from our sins. It is only in a clean state that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father again. That is our ultimate goal.
Sometimes we express concern over a loved one's choices, especially when their choices are hurting them (and others). This is a tricky one, but I do believe we can show concern without judging. I think our concern may easily be mistaken for judgement, but I also think that in time our loved one will realize that it's because of our deep love for them that we care enough to express concern.