November 3, 2016 - The Lost Sheep

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

Luke 15:1-10

The idea that God places the last before the first is probably the most repeated theme in Scripture.  We are comfortable with the idea that the poor, the sick, and the oppressed will get God’s attention before the rich, healthy and socially connected.  But Scripture routinely goes beyond this and suggests that even the immoral will get preference over the moral: the prodigal son gets a party while his elder bother gets nothing, the vineyard workers who start at the end of the day get as much as the ones who start in the late afternoon. A shepherd who abandons ninety-nine sheep to find one lost one won't be a very successful shepherd, but God's economy is different from ours.