Luke 15:1-7

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just 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.  Luke 15:1-7


Pastor Junfeng Tan, my partner at Faith Lutheran, said some things in his sermon yesterday morning that I hope I never forget.  I’d like to capture some of that in this week’s devotions.  (This is from memory so the quotes won’t be exact.)


He told the story of Andrew Roy, a Texan missionary to China.  In 1949, during the communist takeover of the country, Roy was put under house arrest and interrogated by the Chinese.  At one point, his captures were trying to convince him of the foolishness of the Christian faith and the wisdom of communism.  They used these verses from Luke 14.


Their argument was that Jesus was foolish to leave the ninety-nine sheep behind and in potential danger while searching for the one lost sheep.  The communist ideology taught the supreme value of the collective over the individual.  Jesus was foolish in risking the collective to potentially rescue just one lost sheep, a sheep he might never find.


Roy countered with the argument:  “By leaving the ninety-nine, he gave those sheep the gift of ultimate security.  For they knew, that just as the shepherd would leave them to search for one lost sheep, so too would the shepherd do anything he could to find them in case they too might one day find themselves lost.”


But if he ignored or forgot about one lost sheep, the rest of the sheep would live in fear that, should they ever got lost, the shepherd would not come and find them.”


Of course the good news in this story is that we all like sheep have gone astray, but the Good Shepherd will never be content to leave us in our lost-ness.  His focus will ever be on finding the lost ones, and our security will ever be in knowing that we live under the watchful gaze of a loving shepherd who knows the number of every hair on our heads.


Let us pray:  Thank you, our Good Shepherd, that you seek and save the lost.  That you have found us, and should we ever stray, that you will lead us home.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


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