One of my favorite things about my dad was that he used to make up stories for me, on the spot, when I was growing up. Whenever I think of Jesus' parables I think of a younger me saying "Daddy, tell me a story". However, a big difference between His stories and my dad's are that Jesus always had a lesson He was trying to teach. At most points in my life I've felt like a "black sheep"…or just like I don't quite fit in. That's probably why I love this parable so much. Well that and the fact that sheep are one of the things I'm most skilled at doodling.
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15: 1-7 (NLT)
What's our takeaway?
It seems pretty obvious; Jesus loves the lost. He loves the sinner that turns to Him and trusts in Him and each of us was that at one point (or still is).
For a while I was like "ok, I'm good. I've got that. I love Jesus and I'll be sure to share this story when I witness". But you know that they call the Bible the living word, right? So that means no part of it stops being relevant to us at any point in our faith walk. We can't say "man, that parable was sooo good when I was a baby Christian but now all I need is Levitical law or Revelations". We should be constantly learning from all parts of the Bible.
Recently this parable was brought back into my life, as a (more) mature, Christian. The focus was put on the first couple of verses before the story. The part where everyone was all mad at Jesus because He hung out with people society saw as undesirable or beneath them. What was said of those verses was that "people who were nothing like Jesus, liked Jesus".
Often times as people grow in their faith they shun those who represent what their lives were like pre-Christ. I totally feel like there should be a period of distancing that allows new believers to get strong in their faith, grow in biblical knowledge, and build godly community. But we aren't called to live in a holy bubble. We are called to love on the people that were sinning with us because we were shown the same love.
It never stops blowing my mind when I learn new things from familiar scriptures. Revisit your favorite stories or verses. What's something new that they can teach you?