Jesus was often in trouble for making friends with ‘the wrong people.’ In today’s Gospel, it happens again. The scribes and the Pharisees considered themselves ‘the right people.’ They kept God’s Law in every detail, and lived respectable lives. The scribes and Pharisees couldn’t understand why Jesus would welcome people whom they looked down on as sinners.
In response, Jesus tells them three parables; the lost sheep, the lost coin and the famous parable of the Prodigal Son. Each of these stories teaches us that, when one of God’s children is lost, God will go and search for them. It may seem impractical for a shepherd to leave ninety-nine sheep to seek out one that is lost, or for a woman to turn her house upside-down to look for a single coin. It certainly seems unwise for a father to welcome back a son who has left home and squandered his share of the family’s wealth. Jesus tells these stories to show us that God’s love and care for his people goes way beyond what seems wise or reasonable to us.
The father was ‘moved with pity’ for his lost son, and God is moved with pity for us. Jesus, the Son of God, came to seek out sinners and show them God’s mercy. Whenever we are lost in sin, God will seek us out, and will celebrate when we come home to him. Every lost sheep matters to God.