The Parable of the Lost Sheep teaches us a lot about how we ought to behave as Christians and how God and His Son work together to bring salvation to all of mankind. In this post, let us go through the Parable of the Lost Sheep and learn its many important lessons for us today.
What is the Parable of the Lost Sheep?
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is a parable given by Jesus Christ (Yahshua the Messiah). The parable is narrated in two places in the Gospels.
The parable of the lost sheep bible verse includes Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:4-7.
We read in Matthew 18:12-14:
12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
We also read in Luke 15:4-7:
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
Parable of the Lost Sheep summary
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is about a shepherd who has 100 sheep. However, there was one missing. The shepherd then left the 99 sheep in order to find the one missing sheep. The shepherd eventually found the lost sheep. He called on his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him because he has found his one lost sheep.
Looking at the context of these two instances where the lost sheep parable is mentioned, it seems to suggest that the accounts of Matthew and Luke happened on different occasions.
In Matthew, the focus was on the children and how God takes care of them. On the other hand, Luke’s account suggests that Jesus told the parable in his discourse with the religious leaders and Pharisees. This happened when Christ ate together with the people whom others would consider as “sinners.”
Quick Parable of the Lost Sheep Commentary
The lost sheep parable tells us about the love of God and His great devotion to every single human being. You may have lost your way as a sheep, but God will search for you and will do His best to bring you back to His fold. Once you’re back, He is filled with so much joy that He celebrates with Yahshua and His angels.
In the Gospel of Matthew, the Parable of the Lost Sheep focuses primarily on the tender love of God toward children. In the Gospel of Luke, the primary focus is God’s love for the people who have lost their way.
The parable of the lost sheep portrays how God would go to great lengths just to save us from our sins. He was too eager to help and save us to the point that He gave His only begotten Son for us.
Parable of the Lost Sheep Meaning
The Parable of the Lost Sheep serves as an analogy that will help us better understand the message of Yahshua. However, it should be noted that Christ used parables intentionally to hide the meaning of His teaching during the time of His human life.
So, it is a great privilege for us to have the opportunity to understand His parable today.
The story of the Parable of the Lost Sheep is simple but it has profound meaning for all of us. It has three main characters.
These are the following:
- The shepherd – represents Jesus (Yahshua) and by extension, God the Father (Yahweh El Elyon).
- The flock of sheep – represents the people of God. Also represents children.
- The friends and neighbors of the shepherd – the angels
We need to bear these symbols in mind as we go through the lessons from the Parable of the Lost Sheep.
5 Parable of the Lost Sheep Lessons
Now that we have a general background of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, it is now time for us to understand its deeper meaning.
Lesson no. 1: God takes care of the children
The Scripture has a lot of verses that talk about how God loves the children and this parable is just among those passages.
In Matthew’s writing, we see how the love of Christ to the children led him to talk about the Parable of the Lost Sheep.
If you look at the earlier verses of Matthew 18, we see here the great care of Christ toward the children. He said that we must all be child-like in humility if we want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Yahshua also said that taking care of children and receiving them is equivalent to also receiving Him.
There’s even a great punishment for those who will offend the children and cause them to sin.
We read that if you cause a child to sin, it would be better for you “if a millstone were hung around [your] neck, and [you] were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).
Christ is not joking here.
He means business.
He was telling us that children are so important in His eyes that if you don’t care about them and you neglect their spiritual life, it would be better for you to drown and die.
In the parable itself, Christ says that it is NEVER the will of the Father for any of the children to perish.
After Christ’s resurrection, the very first instruction He gave to Simon Peter was this:
“Feed my lambs” (Matthew 21:15).
Lambs are the young sheep. This represents Christ’s instruction that we must not neglect the little ones among us — the young people in the Church.
Of course, we must also remember that children here can also mean those brethren who are new in their Christian faith, who are referred to as the “babes in Christ” (I Corinthians 3:1).
In effect, if we offend and cause our brothers and sisters who are new in the faith to sin, we are going to face a heavier penalty for our sin.
Lesson no. 2: Jesus is our Shepherd
Yahshua or Jesus Christ is no doubt referred to as the Good Shepherd multiple times.
We read in John 10:11, 14-15:
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
It’s amazing how we can easily underestimate the power that is in these verses.
As most of us are not familiar with the farm life of a shepherd, we may not fully appreciate the words of Christ.
Going back to the parable of the lost sheep, we have seen the great trouble that the shepherd is willing to go through just to find the one that has been lost.
We read how the shepherd comb through the mountains and search through the wilderness.
The shepherd is willing to do all that is his power just to find one single lost sheep. In John 10:11, we read that Christ was not just willing to exert every effort, but He is willing to die the most gruesome death ever known to man to redeem the sheep that was lost.
You see, as a Shepherd, Christ will not just take care of us, but will also die for us. That is something we can and we should be thankful for each day of our life.
It shows us the type of commitment Christ has for us.
Lesson no. 3: God as our Shepherd
We read in Psalm 23:1:
The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
The LORD here refers to the name of God, Yahweh. This name may refer to God the Father. True enough, God the Father also serves as our Shepherd.
If you read through the whole chapter of Psalm 23, you will see how all the actions of the Shepherd reflect the very character of the Father.
According to Psalm 23, God the Father:
- Provides our needs
- Brings us comfort
- Restores our soul
- Leads us on the paths of righteousness
- Assuages our fears
- Protects us from evil
- Accompanies us
- Comforts us
All these are functions of our heavenly Father. Thus, we don’t only have Christ as our Shepherd, but we also have our Abba in heaven who ensures that we are taken care of.
Lesson no. 4: God is not willing that anyone should perish
Over and over again, we read about God’s desire that everyone should not perish but come into everlasting life.
We read that the pleasure of God, the thing that makes Him joyful, is for us to be part of His Kingdom.
We read in Luke 12:32:
Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
That’s why it is no great surprise that in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, we read how joyful the shepherd was when he found the one that was lost.
He forgot the difficulty that he went through just to find the lost sheep. He forgot the mountain. He forgot the wilderness. He forgot the exhaustion.
The only thing that the shepherd remembers is the joy that he will experience when he will find the lost sheep.
All the difficulty that the shepherd experienced have now been replaced by great joy as we read in Luke 15:6-7:
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
If there’s one thing that will make God happy, it is this:
That we all turn away from sin and turn to Him.
Notice Ezekiel 33:11:
Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
This is also supported by II Peter 3:9:
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
This is a great truth that most Christians don’t know.
You see, a lot of Christians today believe that God will throw everyone who doesn’t believe in Him to hell. They teach that everyone who is not a Christian today will go to ever-burning lake of fire!
Do you even realize what that means?
It is estimated that there are about 7.5 billion people on earth right now and there are only about 1.8 billion Christians. Now, these are not true Christians, but just Christians by name.
Can you imagine that a greater number of the human population are not Christians? Are you telling me that all these non-Christians are going to hell — lost forever?
How about the people who lived and died in the past who NEVER heard of the Gospel? How about those who live in communist and Muslim countries where Christianity is banned? How about those who never have held a Bible?
Are you telling me that they are all lost forever?
Of course not!
If it is, then God is a big failure.
He wants to save as many people as possible, yet, He even fails to get half of the human population to become His followers!
If we read through the Bible, God is actually just working with a small number of people today.
He is not calling everyone as of yet. That’s why Christ calls His group of believers a “little flock” (Luke 12:32).
If you are keen to learn more, I highly recommend you read my blog entitled, “Is it true that all non-Christians today will go to hell?”
Lesson no. 5: There’s hope for the lost
Yahweh is calling us to be part of the Body of Christ. Once we have answered His call, we become part of the flock. We become sheep in God’s fold.
However, not everyone would stay in the fold.
Some will go astray.
Some will be lost.
We read in Isaiah 53:6:
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Thankfully, God and His Son don’t give up on us. Though we choose to leave His fold, God continuously calls us into repentance. He wants us to turn away from our wicked ways and restore our relationship with Him.
As fellow servants of God, we must not be quick to condemn others who have lost their way.
God is still working with them.
Everyone is a work in progress.
It is not over until God says it is over.
After all, we have all been lost.
We have been a lost sheep at some point in our lives
We need to realize how God has redeemed us from our sins.
If it weren’t the saving grace of God and the sacrifice made by His Son, Yahshua the Messiah, we would still be in our sin, waiting for its penalty — death.
If it weren’t because of the love of God, we could still be the lost sheep in Christ’s parable.
Thankfully, there’s still hope for those who are lost.
God and Christ are willing to do everything within their power to search for the lost sheep.
If you know of someone who is lost, you shouldn’t lose hope as well.
God is still on His Throne.
He is in COMPLETE control.
According to His great wisdom, love, and mercy, He will give everyone a chance to be part of His Kingdom.
Learn the lessons from the Parable of the Lost Sheep
The parable of the Lost Shep is indeed a wonderful parable that shows us God’s love and mercy. He will not give up on us and He will do everything within His power to save us from our sins.
However, we must also realize that God couples mercy with justice. While Yahweh will do His best to bring us back into His fold, there will come a time when justice needs to be served.
God will not force us to be part of His Kingdom.
It is a decision we need to make.
So, while the Lost Sheep Parable is a great reminder of God’s love and mercy, it also tells us about God’s justice. Let us not abuse God’s patience and love because He will bring every good and evil thing that we did into judgment.
May this blog helps you to better understand the Parable of the Lost Sheep.