Once upon a time, there was a rancher who lost one of his sheep. Bummer huh? Maybe it somehow got distracted and wandered away from the rest of the flock. Or maybe it came from a long line of sheep that were notorious wanderers and it was just doing what seemed normal for sheep. Or maybe it was a truly rebellious sheep and intentionally left in search of greener pastures. For whatever reason, this ball of wool suddenly discovered it was far from home without a GPS.
Good news for this little sheep because it just so happened that his owner counted his sheep every single night to see if even one was missing. And whenever he came up short, he did something about it. Here it is in the Rancher’s own words:
What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Well, next door to the rancher lived a little old lady in a cute country cottage. One day, she got out her coin purse and was counting to see if she had enough grocery money for the week. She counted out just enough for her essentials—no more, no less—and hurriedly put the coins back in her purse to head out for the store. But oops! Wait a sec. While hurriedly putting coins away, she dropped one and it rolled down her arm, bounced off the coffee table, and disappeared somewhere behind the couch.
Sheesh. Without that one coin, she was toast. What to do? She lugged on the couch until it moved out from the wall, but couldn’t find anything, save a few dust bunnies the size of Texas. She got down on her hands and knees and looked under the couch and coffee table. No coin. In a frenzy, she turned on every light and tore apart that living room, cushions flying everywhere, furniture moving about until…can you guess what happened?
Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!”
On the very same country lane just so happened to live a nice family of four. Well, all except for that one boy—he was kind of a mess. The parents seemed fit enough. They spent time going to all their boys’ activities and the dad took them camping and fishing practically every weekend in the summer. But seemingly no matter how hard they tried, the younger son was sort of an embarrassment to the family, what with the partying, flunking out of school and drugs. There was always some kind of buzz floating around the country neighborhood and rural town as to his latest rebellious antics. What went wrong with this kid, nobody knows for sure.
One day the boy left home and nobody heard from him for a long time. Every now and then you’d hear a rumor or two about him being in and out of jail or living on the streets, but after a few years, the dust settled and everyone went back to cackling about their own lives and problems. …Well everyone forgot except the parents who had given life to the boy in the first place. He was part of them—their very DNA. How could they forget? How could they stop hoping? How could they stop looking?
One day this lost son, having exhausted his rebellious streak on the empty pleasures of life, made a turn for home. Here’s what happened next:
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And he said, “…this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found!”
Even before the boy had uttered a word of repentance, the father waited for him, watched intently for him, found him, and then the father ran to the boy!
All three of these parables come from Luke 15, and they are all told in succession. I believe all three tell the same story, as the parables of Jesus often repeat points. Something of great value was lost—a sheep, a coin, and a son—and the owner of each never stopped looking until they were found. What is even more interesting is the Greek word that is used for “lost” in each parable—apollumi. In a soon coming entry, we’ll discover the significance of this word in the New Testament.
Until then, bask in the unfailing love of your God and Savior who is not satisfied with even one lost sheep. He is looking for each of them and won’t stop until they are found and brought home.