“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety- nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. ’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety- nine righteous persons who need no repentance.Luke 15: 4-7
It has been said that Ernest Hemingway delivered a short story in the fewest amount of words when he wrote, “For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.” Whether or not Hemingway actually wrote those words, it is true that those words create quite a picture. Still, it leaves the reader to fill in the blanks on his/her own.
Not so with the three brief stories, Jesus delivered to the Pharisees and the sinners. In less than one hundred words he uses the imagery of the good shepherd (Jesus) searching for a lost sheep to describe the lostness of mankind and the joy experienced by God over a single sinner who repents.
A.W. Tozer said that the most important thing about us is how we view God. So, do we see God as judging us constantly, keeping a naughty and good list, or is our view of God one who values us and applauds us when we are found – when we come to repentance?
Maybe just as telling is our view of others who repent. Do we join the shepherd in his celebration or do we remain distant and skeptical?