99 sheep and a sinner ain’t one

Jesus told them a parable: Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?  When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and 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.

Have you heard, or maybe said something like this before: “Alright Jesus, so I’m not really that bad of a sinner, I haven’t killed anybody and I think that I’m a generally nice person.  Are you telling me that you would leave me in the wilderness with this flock of dumb sheep just to find the one screw-up?  Come on man!”

Let’s have a reality check for that self-righteous ninety-nine: if you are thinking that way, you are actually the lost sheep.  It only looks like you are part of the flock because you are near all the other sinful sheep that think that same way.  But that is no flock, because they have no shepherd.

Here’s the deal.  We are all that lost sheep.  The Church of Jesus Christ is not made up of the ninety-nine righteous ones.  (This shouldn’t be mind-blowing, have you ever read any church history?)  The Church of Jesus Christ is composed of those lost sheep who have been found by Jesus.  The Church, that wonderful and ineffable mystery, has laid upon the shoulders of Christ as he rejoices with all the company of heaven.   

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