Steve Wolf

New Testament


The Lost Sheep


In Luke 15: 1‑7, tax collectors and sinners were gathering to hear Jesus speak. In disapproval, the Pharisees and the scribes murmured to each other, say, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." In response to this statement, Jesus spoke of the parable of the Lost Sheep. He asked them that if they had a hundred sheep and one got lost, wouldn't they rejoice with their neighbors once they found it? Just as this, "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety‑nine righteous persons who need no repentance." This parable focuses on God's search for sinners.


The parable of The Lost Sheep is the first of three that are linked together. The parable is told because the Pharisees and scribes don't like that Jesus associates with sinners. The sinners went to Jesus because their religious leaders, the Pharisees and scribes, shunned them because they were considered unclean and were afraid to become unclean themselves. Jesus, on the other hand, welcomed them. He truly wanted to help them and guide them to salvation.


The Pharisees and scribes were very ignorant and narrowed minded. They only saw things from their own perspective so, in their own minds, they didn't like what Jesus was doing. Instead of seeing Him as the one who is trying to save man, they viewed Him as an evil doer. The problem of not looking at a situation through another person's perspective is a problem that has and will always plague man. Many arguments and fight because people choose to ignore where the other person is coming from. Most of the world's problems would be solved if people could look at things from another's perspective.


The shepard left the pack to search for the one lost sheep. When he found it, he didn't reprimand it. Instead, he told his friends and family and they rejoiced together. He knows that the sheep will stray from time to time and he will always go after them. He understands that they don't know better and they need his guidance. If he doesn't, then they will wander off and die. Even though they will travel through treacherous territory, the sheep trust him will make it through. Those that don't stray away, but usually they will be found and will return. Those that leave for good will be eaten by wild animals.


Jesus is our shepard. He guides us through the world until we reach salvation. All we have to do is have faith in Him and do what He wills, and we will make it. Anyone who doesn't have faith, who doesn't follow, will be sought out by Him. He rejoices when we come back, but those that don't wander forever and starve spiritually. Jesus understands that we are only human and that we do make mistakes, which is why He will always try to find us when we miss the mark and sin.


Jesus presents this parable as a rebuttal against the Pharisees and scribes havilIg a problem with His associating with sinners. In Mark 2: 17, Jesus says, "Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." If Jesus came only to work with the righteous, He would be "preaching to the choir." He would serve no purpose because He would be saving those who are already saved. Jesus came to save those who need saving. 


But who are the righteous? The word righteous comes from the Hebrew words sedek, edakah and its derivatives that are used in the Old Testament. It the best way to understand their meanings is to see their application. In Dt. 25: 15, "A full and just weight you shall have, and a full and just measure you shall have." Lv. 19: 36 says, "You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin." "A righteous weight is one which is what it is to be.


In common usage the word group of sedek pertains to legal processes. When this is the case, they are translated by just and justice. Judges are commanded to rule impartially and with justice. Lv. 19:15, "You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor." Hence, one who has sedek or is saddik is in the right.


The words used for righteous in the New Testament are in the Old Testament sense, aergo, righteous means innocent or right. Mt. 27:3,4, "When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, 'I have sinned in betraying innocent blood."' And then in verse 19, "Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, 'Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream."'


Righteousness is considered to be good behavior. Mt.5:10, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." In verse 20, "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." This is interesting because even though the Pharisees and scribes were out to get Him, he still believed that they were righteous. Lk.1:74,75, we "might serve him [God] without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life." In 2 Pt.2:5, "if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness... "


If the sheep don't trust their Shepard, if they don't have faith in him, they won't follow him. They will never get anywhere. They will end up wandering around the wilderness until they starve and die. The word faith comes from the Greek pisteuein, meaning believe, and pistis, meaning faith. The verb pisteuein in classical Greek means to trust, to exhibit confidence, and to accept as true. The noun pistis shows assurance, confidence, and belief.


Faith in Jesus is one of the most important requirements that man needs in order to achieve salvation. It is also one of the most effective attributes that man can have. Jesus has healed people solely because of their faith. In Mt.9:27‑30, Jesus encountered two blind men who cried for Him to have mercy on them. Jesus asked them if they believed he could heal them, which they responded yes. He then touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be done to you," and they immediately gained their sight.


Jesus desires for us to have faith in Him. In Mk.4:35‑40, the disciples were ovt at sea with Jesus. While Jesus was sleeping, a storm hit. They woke Him up, asking if He cared if they died. Jesus awoke and commanded that the sea be calm. He then asked them, "Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?" Jesus also praises faith. In Mt.8:5‑10, a centurion told Jesus that he had a paralyzed slave. All he asked was that Jesus say that he was healed because he knew that since he was a man of authority, if he told one of his servants to go, they would go. If Jesus said that his servant was healed, he would be. Jesus was amazed at how strong this man's faith was that he proclaimed to the crowd, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I seen such faith." He later finished, "Go; be it done for you as you have believed," and at that very moment the servant was healed.


Sometimes all it takes is a small leap of faith to be healed. Lk.8:43‑48 tells of the story when Jesus was being crowed with people who were just trying to touch them so that they would be healed. There was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years who snuck up and touched Jesus and was instantly healed. She was hoping that Jesus wouldn't notice, that she could touch Him, be healed, and flee unnoticed. However, Jesus felt power leave Him, but He didn't who did it. He asked who was responsible and the woman came forward and dropped to His feet and explained why she touched Him and how she was immediately healed. Jesus responded, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."


Faith is one of the most powerful qualities man can posses. Even a little faith can go a long way. In Mt.21:18‑22, Jesus saw a barren fig tree and said that it will never produce fruit again, and it withered and died. His disciples were amazed at this and asked Him how He did it. Jesus replied, "Truly, is say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to Ns mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will be done. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." If you have faith, anything is possible. This idea is explicitly said by Jesus in Mk.9:23, "And Jesus said to him, 'If you can! All things are possible to him who believes."'


Faith in Jesus is the first step in the journey to salvation. If a person can't trust the most trustworthy person, then they will never be ready to enter the Kingdom of God.  It is through our faith in Jesus that we enter into a union with Him. Jesus points us down the right path towards righteousness that will ultimately lead to eternal life.


In Paul's letter to the Galatians, he says that Christians will be the Sons of God just as long as they have faith in Jesus. "Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of god, through faith." The second part of this passage states that we are all one in Christ. We are not divided by sex, color or faith. We are all able to be received by God.


The shepard protects his sheep so that they can remain free from harm. He gives them guidance and direction throughout their journey together. The shepard is willing to lay down his life for them, even if just one gets lost. Without him, the sheep would be clueless and open to all predators and would not be able to survive. We are the sheep, and Jesus is our shepard. But where is Jesus leading us to? He is helping us along our journey to the Kingdom of God. We will arrive at our destination through salvation.


The parable of The Lost Sheep is the first of three that are linked together. The second is the parable of The Lost Piece of Silver. A woman has ten coins and loses one. She makes a complete sweep of the house leaving nothing unchecked. When she eventually finds it, she calls together her friends to celebrate. In The Lost Sheep the emphasis in the Lost Sheep is placed on the fact that the shepard, no matter what, will keep seeking for the lost sheep. Here, the emphasis is placed on the thoroughness put into the search. Even though it is just one coin the woman tore apart her house to find it. She was willing to invest all of her time if necessary to find that one coin.


The third parable is The Prodigal Son. This one sheds light on the human side of the search. Here, a man asks his father for his inheritance and leaves. He wastes all of it and ends up in the gutter. He then goes back home and admits that he was wrong where his father welcomes him with open arms.


The son is given his inheritance and he immediately runs off so that he is as far away from his father's influence as soon as possible. He is rushing to meet the freedom that he thinks exists from being free of his father so that he can do whatever he feels. As quickly as he ran away does he fall under the control of wrong doers and squanders his inheritance. He exchanged the real freedom he enjoyed in obedience to his father's will for living under the rule of sin. In the process, he lost not only inheritance, but also his moral character.


Through this parable Jesus is conveying the message that a life of sin and mistakes is rooted in our breaking away from God. People get a false sense of freedom that causes them to wander into a life of sin. This is when man drowns in selfishness and wastes the special gifts that God has graciously bestowed upon us. God has given us these gifts for us to share with the world and spread Jesus' message of faith and love. When we use our talents for good, we are glorifying God and this is when we experience true happiness.


A famine struck the land when the son was finished wasting his money. Not one of his new "friends" who was there to help him spend his money could or would help him out in the slightest. He was all alone and fell into a state of want. When a person turns from God, they realize that the place that they end up has nothing good to offer them. It just takes from them. The person is rendered wanting spirituality.


The son was forced to get a job, but the best he could was the worst possible job, herding pigs. But it manages to get worse for him because even the pigs were treated better than him. He was trying to stage of starvation, but couldn't even get enough of the pigs' food to sustain him. When man remains from God, he falls into the slavery of sin and remains in spiritual famine.


The son can't handle his awful existence and realizes that he acted like a fool by running away from his father's land. Thinking about his satisfying his home life was causes him to finally comprehend how empty his current world was. The first step towards true repentance is to understand how bad of situation you are in. If you don't know that you're doing wrong then you can't understand what it means to be right so you can't truly be sorry,


The son decides that he will return home because he has faith in his dad that his he will take him back. The son is going to go home and explain to his dad what exactly he did wrong and will apologize and ask to be a worker. When he was close to his home, his dad saw him and ran out to meet him half way. The father welcomed him with open arms and kissed him. The son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son." From what he said, it is evident that he was truly sorry for he had done and that he didn't go home just to be rescued from his pitiful life. He was honest when said that he had sinned against his father and God. He didn't even think that he was worthy to be called a son because he acted so foolishly so he wanted to return as a worker. All of this proves his sincerity.


The son saw how wrongly he had acted for the first time when his dad welcomed him home. This allowed his to see the severity of his actions. The father was overcome with joy before his son even asked for forgiveness. The father didn't reprimand or yell. It didn't matter what his son had done, the father was just happy that his lost son was now found.


The father had always waited for his son's return and when he did he was so overcome with joy that he had the fattest calf killed for the celebration that he was going to have. God's love is so tremendous that He not only forgives the sinner, but runs out to meet them half way and embrace them in His love and grace. He seeks and attracts sinners before they show any remorse. As long as were are truly sorry, God will not punish us. God is just happy for us to come home.


The brother was upset because he had acted in accordance with all of his wishes, but his father never held a celebration for him. When he approached his father, the father said, "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found." Those who are righteous are already with God so no celebration is needed. When one returns to God, all should rejoice.


For the most part, I don't see any of themes in the three parables in today's world. If you do something wrong and get caught, you will be punished. If you don't get caught, you don't get punished. With God, though, He knows everything so we have to be truly sorry for everything in order to be saved. Kids need to be reprimand so that they can learn right from wrong. They try to do what they want because it makes them happy. They don't realize what they do actually effects other people. All they know is what makes them happy is what they want to do. The parents don't get pleasure out of punishing their kids. It is out of love that they do it because, in the end, they know that it is what is best for their kids. Children need to know right from wrong so that they can keep themselves safe. If the parents didn't care then they would allow their kids to do whatever they wanted which will just get them hurt. Parents don't really rejoice when their kids come up to apologize for something. They are usually upset about the incident.


Bosses have to punish disorderly employees in order to keep the company in control. Employees are paid to do their job, but if they aren't, then it is understood that they will punished in some way or flat out replaced with someone that will do the job correctly. Businesses are supposed to make money and if everyone is doing whatever they feel, it will collapse.


Overall in society, there has to be rules for everyone to abide by, otherwise, it would be anarchy. Too many people would get hurt if everyone did whatever the wanted. If people can't follow the rules then they need to be punished so that they know not to do it again. The rules are instated to keep everyone safe.


However, even with the rules, people do make mistakes and stray away. After all, we are only human. People screw up all the time, but do try to get back on track, some more serious than others. For instance, just this past Saturday, my two friends and I were on the bus. We didn't bring tickets so we couldn't get them validated. The police got on the bus and asked for everyone's ticket, except for me for some reasons so I didn't get a ticket. My two friends did so they had to pay a fifty euro fine. Ever since then, we have always gotten our tickets validated. Often times you will hear of prisoners who have raped or robbed becoming born again Christians. They all might not be sincere, but they are at least trying. 


I do see faith in the world today, though. Actually, I see it everywhere. I have faith in the Mensa workers to cook our meals well. People trust that the buses will be running when they expect them to be running. People trust each other to stop at read lights and stop signs. However, the Mensa workers will overcook the hamburgers from time to time. The buses don't exactly run on time everyday. Car accidents happen because a person trusts the other car to stop at the stop sign, but doesn't. We're human, we all make mistakes. But the more faith that you put into something or someone, the mote it hurts when they don't come through. I am in a very serious relationship with someone who I believe might be "The One," but she is thousand of miles away. I have faith in her that she won't cheat on me and she has faith in me. If I get home, and she tells me that she cheated, I would be devastated.


I also see people being upset because they have been behaving as they should, but they not are being rewarded for it. Or when people who are less worthy are rewarded. That's just in our nature. Everybody likes to get stuff in general, but especially for doing a job well done. It makes people feel liked, wanted, and important.


The message today would be that we should be more forgiving to those who stray away. As long as the person is truly sorry, then there is no need to be upset with them. Everyone makes mistakes. But people need to look at the big picture before the act so that some of wrongs that occur in the world can be avoided so that people don't have to openly forgive others. Once people start doing this the world will become a drastically better place.


I personally find it very hard to forgive some people. I will always accept an apology, but I won't necessarily believe it or take it to heart. I was in Dublin a few weekends ago. We encountered these three locals, one of which stole my friend's wallet. As we were sorting the mess out, one the girls kicked me in my behind. She later apologized, but I don't think that it was sincere. There are certain things that people can do that, in my current state of mind, I find unforgivable.  Maybe as I grow older I'll be able to, but that will take a lot of learning.


People in general have a long way to go before we can actually forgive and apologize to each other and actually celebrate it. Too many bad feelings are floating around. But it does have to start somewhere. In time, people will get the hang of it, but it is going to be a hard long process. Few people are ready now, but that number will grow. Until then, we are just going to have to try to work with each other, have a little faith in each other before we reach our goal.


In no other religion does a person come to know God as the one who in His love tries to find those that have strayed from the group and save them through his grace. In other religious doctrines, we continually see how man looks for God, but only in the , Bible do we see how God searched for man so that he can enjoy eternal life. Jesus paid for our redemption by dying on the cross for us. Because of this, every being is priceless in the eyes of God so anyone who desires it can have a spot with Him.