Original post at http://sandpipersthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-99-9-one-lost.html
Our topic for Bible Study a few weeks ago was Luke 15. Luke 15 is a great chapter. It contains the story of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost sons. In it is much to learn and much fodder for discussion.
We were talking about the Lost Sheep. One person remarked that if she had been the shepherd, she would never have left the 99 to go find the one. Why risk the 99 and leave them undefended? I switched the question -- what if you were responsible for 100 children, and one of them got lost? What would you do?
Another person in the class remarked that the story isn't about the 99 sheep -- it's about the one sheep. It's a parable about how precious the one sheep is to the shepherd. The other 99 sheep aren't important to the story.
Do you agree with that?
I don't think I do. I think the story is about the one sheep, and it is about the 99 sheep. It's about the one lost coin and the 9 other coins. I think we learn that when we read the last parable in the chapter -- the one about the two sons. One son knows he is lost, and he makes a decision to come back home. He is welcomed. It's a wonderful, tidy story. The other son doesn't realize he is lost, but even so, the father comes out to him to find him. There is no satisfying ending to that part of the story. What does that older son decide to do?
I think it parallels the people who are surrounding Jesus. The "sinners" -- the tax collectors and outcasts -- are lost, and they are coming to Jesus. The Pharisees don't know they are lost, and still the father comes to them. What will they decide? The story must be open ended because they Pharisees have not yet decided what to do.
Which are we? Are we lost, and we realize it? Do we experience the joy of the younger son, returning to a forgiving father? Or are we the older son, not even realizing our need for redemption. What will we decide?
The 99 sheep, the 9 coins and the older son are important to the story because they are important to God. All are loved.