How the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin stories teach us God’s character
One of the most famous Scripture says, “God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten son” for it. For many, the obvious follow up response is, "Great! Then why is the world more messed up now than ever before?" In truth, God does love humanity. His love is expressed in a profound and eternal plan. While understanding this plan may be challenging, it certainly is not impossible. On many occasions Jesus showed us the magnitude of God’s love and plan. But he showed us in story form. We will look at a series of parables. These are stories Jesus used in Luke 15 and 16 to trace the power and grandeur of God’s love for all of us. By carefully following the symbols in the parables, we can clearly reveal their meaning!
In Part I we uncover the Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. These are both found in Luke 15. The Lost Sheep story is almost universally interpreted that Jesus as the shepherd leaves his 99 sheep behind in the pasture He goes to find the one sheep who strayed away. We love the feeling we get when we see a picture of Jesus accounting for every last one of his flock. The parable goes on to describe a celebration in heaven over the finding of a lost sinner. While such an interpretation provides a wonderful picture, we think it's really missing the big picture of God’s love for humanity.
In the parable, the 99 sheep are described as not needing repentance. Think about the human family. Can we honestly think of 99 individuals in all of history who did not need repentance? There was in fact only one, the man Christ Jesus. That being the case, we realize that the parable's convenient interpretation does not match the words of Jesus in that parable. To find the true meaning of the story we need to be sure we put all of the clearly-stated pieces of it in order.
When we assemble those pieces appropriately. We find a powerful picture of God and His love for the entire human race. Rather than focusing on just one sinner, the parable is actually focusing on an entire race of sinners. It shows us that God not only loves us, but He through the obedience and sacrifice of Jesus holds all of humanity as sacred. What could be better than that?
Check out our June 24, 2019 podcast, “Does God Really Love Humanity? (Part I)” for more. (Then check out Part II!) See how the details of this Lost Sheep story fit together into a powerful narrative of God’s care for us. Further, see how the parable of the Lost Coin follows suit with the same general message but from a whole different perspective. Jesus taught in parables to purposely be mysterious. He also said his true followers would be privileged to understand things others could not. The clear message? God’s love for humanity is genuine, pre-planned and eternal!
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