Luke 15:1-7

During the season of Lent our devotions have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church.  Today’s writer is Dave Gohlke.

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

In the wilderness we call life, it’s not hard to see ourselves as one of the flock, one of the 99 sheep, who mill about, stay with the herd, and go along and get along. We work, we go to school, we live with our families or alone, but in community with others, we come to church and participate in activities as members of Faith.

Maybe we feel confident and assured, maybe we believe we have it together most of the time, or maybe we wander, we stray from the herd, and we are less attentive to others than God wants us to be.

This parable tells us directly of God’s great love for us, an everlasting love, a deep, caring, and protective love. A love that sent an only son to live with us and die for us and be our Good Shepherd. A son to search the wilderness for us, to find us, to carry us safely back to the fold, and to rejoice over us with all the host of heaven at our return.

No matter how far we wander, how thick are the brambles of life that ensnare us, Jesus is relentless in his search for us and his love for us.

I have a tendency to see myself as one of the 99, comfortable in the flock, doing OK. But really I am the lost sheep, wandering away, always in need of God’s searching, loving protection, always in need of being carried back over His shoulders to be rejoined with the Body of Christ.

Each of us is the lost sheep, straying away, becoming separated and lost, and needing to be searched for and found and carried back on the strong, loving shoulders of Jesus Christ, back to repentance, back to the fold, back into community with our sisters and brothers.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for always loving us, for searching for us until we are found, for leading us to repentance, and for rejoicing with all of heaven when we are restored to your kingdom. In the name of your Son, the Good Shepherd, Amen.

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