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The Parable of the Lost Sheep Essay


Matthew 18:10-14 Luke 15:3-7
‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?

If he finds it, truly, I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.

Therefore, it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

So he told them this 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.

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 Jesus said, “The (Father’s) kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray.

He left the ninety-nine and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said to the sheep, ‘I love you more than the ninety-nine.’” over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.

Scenery

In the book of Matthew, the parable of the lost ship is presented in a fascinating context. In his analysis, Hagner observes that the context under which the parable was set can easily shake the faith of an individual. This is because it gives some of the most challenging rules that must be followed by each believer.

Hagner tries to figure out the circumstances that could have caused the sheep to stray. Therefore, it is noted that some factors may force sheep to stray1. However, the sheep is not to blame, but instead the ninety-nine sheep should take responsibility.

Hagner goes a notch higher to suggest that those who scare the sheep should be dealt with accordingly. Under this section, he discusses matters related to discipline in the church. In case those who scare the sheep are not disciplined, the same problem might be encountered in the future.

Exegetical Assessment

Matthew Verse 10

Hagner observes that the angels that Jesus refers to in the verse are special types of angels that cannot be compared to other angels. This is because the angels could see God face-to-face. It was believed in the Jewish culture that only special angels would see God. Therefore, Jesus suggests in the book of Matthew verse ten that angels are ranked according to their capacity to their power.

Those that are able to speak to God are special angels and are above the normal angels. Harrington concurs with the reasoning of Hagner by noting that angels have limited access to the celestial. However, those who believe in the inferior angels should not be loathed.

Matthew Verse 12 and Luke Verse 4

In the book of Matthew, Jesus poses a question to his disciples. He asks them to give their views regarding the parable of the lost sheep. This means that Jesus gave his disciples a chance to apply the parable in interpreting their lives. Nolland observes that Jesus never posed questions to his disciples in the book of Luke2.

Jesus interacted with his disciples more directly in the book of Luke, unlike in the book of Matthew whereby he challenged his disciples to find the meaning of the parable. In both books, Jesus seems to go against societal expectations because the ninety-nine sheep would be more valuable as compared to a single sheep. In the book of Mathew, the wording of the verse changes the meaning of the parable.

The phrase ‘gone astray’ is used in the book of Matthew meaning that the sheep could have dispersed without the influence of external forces. In the book of Luke, the phrase ‘losing one of them’ is used meaning that the sheep dispersed after the shepherd failed to control the situation.

Matthew Verse 13 and Luke Verse 5-6

The major difference between the book of Matthew and Luke regarding the parable of the lost sheep is found in the above verses. In the book of Luke, it is certain that the shepherd would find the sheep while Matthew hints out that the chances of finding the sheep are minimal.

In other words, Harrington notes that Luke is confident that the shepherd would find the sheep while Matthew gives the confidence of doubt3. In the book of Luke, the word ‘when’ is used while Matthew uses ‘if’. In both books, Hagner states that the lost sheep would be found because joy signifies celebrations.

Matthew Verse 14 and Luke Verse 7

In the book of Luke, verse seven can only be understood after studying verse six. In other words, verse seven is closely related to verse six. In the book of Luke, the owner of the sheep invited other people to rejoice with him after he found the lost sheep. He organized for a big party and thanked everyone for participating. Jesus said that it would be joyful for a sinner to repent and accept Jesus as his or her personal savior4.

The verse goes ahead to suggest that Jesus came to salvage those languishing in sin. The sinful individuals are compared to the sick. In the book of Matthew, verse 14 suggests that there are little chances of finding the lost sheep. Hagner notes that those who stray might end up perishing.

Message

In the two books, the last verses seem to summarize the parable. Both books support the idea that church leaders must concentrate on bringing back the lost sheep. It is the role of the church members to ensure that each member of the church is comfortable. According to Matthew, no sheep should be allowed to disappear. Luke goes ahead to suggest that God is happy whenever one sheep is found.

Therefore, church members should ensure that they search the lost hearts because it pleases God. Jesus is pleased more when one sheep is found. In fact, the parable suggests that Jesus came to cure the sick not the healthy. Therefore, the role of the church leader is to care for the sick not the healthy. As a rule, church leaders should ensure that they guide the congregation in the right way.

It is ethical for the church leaders to look for the lost sheep instead of taking care of the ninety-nine sheep. Without the support of the church leaders, the congregation is confused. The shepherd is therefore expected to leave the ninety-nine sheep and search for the lost sheep, even if it is only one. A controversy exists of whether the shepherd is God or Jesus. A close analysis suggests that the shepherd is both Jesus and God.

Application

The parable motivates church members to fulfill a common goal in life. Through the parable, church members are able to care for one another because Jesus suggested that they should be each other’s keeper. In fact, a church member should not behave in a manner that would compromise the faith of another church member.

In various churches in the world, people forget their responsibilities and end up performing things that simply fulfill their interests. This contradicts the provisions of the parable because church members must care for each other. In the modern society, church members are simply concerned with their wishes and interests and they forget that they should support their brothers.

The parable has transformed the way young pastors relate with other members of society. It is suggested that young pastors should deal with other youths who are yet to receive Jesus in their lives. This is based on the idea that Jesus came to heal the sick, but not the healthy.

Bibliography

Hagner, Donald A. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word Books, 1995.

Harrington, Daniel. Sacra Pagina. Collegeville: The Liturgical, 1991.

Hultgren, Arland. The Parables of Jesus: a Commentary. Grand Rapids. Michigan: Eerdmans, 2002.

Nolland, John. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word Books, 1993

Footnotes

1 Donald, Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 87.

2John Nolland, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word Books, 1993), 58

3 Daniel Harrington, Sacra Pagina (Collegeville: The Liturgical, 1991), 12.

4 Arland Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus: a Commentary. Grand Rapids (Michigan: Eerdmans, 2002), 29.

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IvyPanda. "The Parable of the Lost Sheep." June 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-parable-of-the-lost-sheep/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Parable of the Lost Sheep." June 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-parable-of-the-lost-sheep/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Parable of the Lost Sheep'. 18 June.

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