In the new testament of the holy Christian bible, there are two parables that describe a shepherd and his sheep. One of the parables is in the book of Matthew, in the eighteenth chapter (Matt. 18:12-14 Revised Standard Version)1, while the other account is in the book of Luke in the fifteenth chapter (Luke 15:4-7 Revised Standard Version)2.
The two parables are similar, and are given by the same person. Jesus of Nazareth gave the parables to his disciples as an example of his relationship with humans. However, the two parables are not entirely similar. There are some differences in the two accounts.
One of the similarities between the parables is that Jesus of Nazareth gave both parables to his disciples as an example of love between him and all humanity. In addition, he talks about a lost sheep in the two parables.
In the two parables, the shepherd goes out to look for the lost sheep and leaves his other flock unattended. When the shepherd finds the lost sheep, he brings it back to the rest of the flock and rejoices. Both parables were used to illustrate the importance of all people to god, including sinners.
In both parables, Jesus describes himself as the savior who has come to retrieve the lost sheep. The parables were some of the many others he had told his disciples at the same gatherings. Moreover, both parables were given at a time Jesus was narrating many other parables.
Although the parables are considered descriptions of the same event, there are differences in the manner they are presented. The parable of lost sheep in the book of Mathew was told in response to a query by Jesus’ disciples. They wanted Jesus to tell them who the greatest authority in heaven was.
On the other hand, the parable of the lost sheep in Luke was given to the Pharisees after they observed that Jesus dined with sinners and kept their company.
In the book of Mathew, Jesus talks of one sheep leaving the flock and going into the mountains, while in Luke, he is quoted saying that the sheep goes into a wilderness, which is not a precise description of any particular environment.
In the book of Matthew, the account of the shepherd and the lost sheep talks about a man who rejoices for the recovered sheep more than he does for the flock that did not go astray (Matt. 18:12-16 Revised Standard Version)3. In the book of Luke, the account described the shepherd’s actions.
He puts the recovered sheep on his shoulder and rejoices. One of the most explicit distinctions between the two parables is that the parable in Matthew talks of a man who just rejoices. The happy shepherd takes no further action.
However, in Luke, the shepherd takes the sheep home, calls his neighbors and his friends, and asks them to rejoice with him to celebrate the recovery of his sheep. At the end of the parable in the book of Mathew, Jesus tells his disciples that God would not wish to lose anyone of his people.
On the other hand, in the book of Luke, he tells his disciples that just as people come together and rejoice to celebrate retrieval of the sheep, there is a similar celebration in heaven for a sinner who repents.
In Mathew, the parable was given during the sermon on the mountain, while the parable in Luke was given during Sabbath after Jesus had dined with Pharisees. He had also questioned the traditional rules of Sabbath, which prohibited eating during Holy Sabbath (Luke. 15:4-6 Revised Standard Version)4.
It is evident that the two parables have a few but substantial similarities. On the other hand, there are many but less significant differences between the accounts of the two parables.
Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version. Chicago: Bible Translation Committee, 1988.
1 Matt. 18:12-14 RSV
2 Luke. 15: 4-6 RSV
3 Matt. 18:12-16 RSV
4 Luke. 15:4-6 RSV