Parable of the Lost Sheep

QUESTION: What does the parable of the lost sheep signify?


The parable of the lost sheep was told by Jesus when the Pharisees criticized Him for socializing with sinners. Through this story of compassion, Jesus revealed his rescue mission for sinners.

“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘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 will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent’” (Luke 15:3-7).

The parable begins with a straying sheep. A sheep apart from its shepherd is defenseless and in grave danger. Jesus views any person apart from Him as lost. How is he lost? His sins alienate him from the holy God, leaving him groping aimlessly in darkness. “So, justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows” (Isaiah 59:9).

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