You are known (Luke 15:1-7)
Luke 15:1 There is a shift in emphasis in this passage where Jesus is moving away from the religious leaders and hanging out with the sinners and tax collectors.
Verse 1 Those identified as “sinners” were those that were perceived by the religious leaders as being unfaithful to the law. But the Law at this point was highly manipulated by the religious leaders.
- So what they received as “sin” Jesus may have perceived differently.
- The NLT adds a word. Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.
- Some of these sinners may have been well known. But that didn’t bother Jesus.
- Tax collectors were hated because they collected taxes for Rome and were often taking a rather large cut for themselves.
Verse 2 To share a meal with someone was a form of acceptance. So, by eating with these people Jesus is publicly accepting them. The Pharisees having lost sight of God’s heart, and would rather have rejected them.
- Of course, the Pharisees and teachers of the law here are also very hung up on their power.
Verse 3 As usual Jesus answers their complaint with a parable while using imagery from Ezek. 34:1-16.
Verse 4 A flock of a hundred sheep was a modest flock sized sort of a middle-income size.
- The shepherd would count his flock and if he discovered one missing, he would either leave his flock with another shepherd or family member and go look for the lost one.
- He would not simply be content with the 99 but would actually leave the others to give special treatment to the one that was lost.
- He would continue to look until either there was no hope, or he found the remains of the sheep, or he found it.
- The lost sheep here can represent two types of people. First, a person that has never known God; But God is calling them to Himself. Second, someone who was a believer but has fallen away.
- But of course, Jesus is referring to Himself as the shepherd and He is explaining the great extent to which He will go to find a lost sheep or in this case a lost person.
- But this traditional understanding of this verse misses something of the character of God.
- I think as we look at this parable it is important for us to see God in a more personal way.
- We are not just a number; God doesn’t have to stop and count to see if one of us is missing.
- We are known by God, he sees us, and knows our name.
Verse 5 The shepherd finds the lost sheep and doesn’t just lead it back but carries it back. Shepherds would carry the sheep to further bolster the bond between sheep and shepherd.
Verse 6 The shepherd doesn’t rejoice alone but returns home and invites all his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him.
- This picture of rejoicing will repeat in the next parable of the lost coin and again at the end of the prodigal son story.
Verse 7 Jesus now tells us that the rejoicing in heaven over the return of a sinner is even greater than on earth.