A Study Of Luke 15:1-7

In this article we will consider the first parable in Luke Chapter 15. This is the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Even though the Lord Jesus is speaking about sheep, He actually has in view people; and particularly He has in view two groups of people:

The Publicans & Sinners, and the Pharisees & Scribes.

Now before we interpret this parable we must first ask ourselves: “What did God say?”

Luke 15:1
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

Luke 15:2
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Luke 15:3
And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

Luke 15:4
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

Luke 15:5
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Luke 15:6
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Luke 15:7
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Is it not amazing how often the Lord Jesus attracted publicans and sinners?

They were drawn to Jesus. They were the outcasts of their own society. Their fellow Jews branded them incurably sinful, deserving Hell and on the way to Hell, and they received no mercy from the Scribes and Pharisees. But from Jesus they did not receive such condemnation. It does not mean that Jesus condoned their sins, but with Jesus they found mercy. With Jesus they found that there was a new life possible.

Something similar is going on today when people are branded “alcoholics”. They are treated as if they are physically sick, and they have an incurable disease: “Alcoholism”. Well, if the disease is incurable, they have no hope of ever being cured of it. But God does not call it a disease. God says it is sin; it is a dreadful sin, but there is hope for sinners, and you can be cured of it. The Lord Jesus Christ can save you from your sin. Our God delights in mercy and God the Holy Spirit can give you a new heart, so that you do not desire that sin any more. That is the hope for sinners: To have new life.

Of course everyone needs this, not only publicans and sinners.

But did you know, there is another reason why the Lord Jesus was so often surrounded by publicans and sinners?

It is true that they found mercy with Him, but Jesus was demonstrating that such mercy comes only to those who realize that they are grievous sinners; not little sinners. When the Lord Jesus said: The Son of man is come:

To Seek and to Save That Which Was Lost,

historically Jesus applied it to Zacchaeus, the publican, but of course such mercy applies to every sinner who becomes saved. Let’s consider this mercy in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, and let’s look for a few minutes at the parallel narrative.

Matthew 18:11
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Matthew 18:12
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

Matthew 18:13
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

Matthew 18:14
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

This is the same parable as in Luke 15.

What is God saying here?

Who does the Man represent, and whom do the 100 sheep represent, and whom do these little ones represent?

Of course, the man in this parable is the Lord Jesus Christ. But among the many questions we might ask, the first one should be:

“How is it that anyone of us could get lost?”

How is it that NONE of us actually could find our way back home?

The answer that the Bible gives is that we all sinned in Adam when Adam rebelled against God, and Adam plunged the whole human race in bondage to sin. We could not find our way back to God because we all were born as voluntary slaves of Satan. If God does not pursue the sinner, the sinner shall never come to God. That is why God elected certain people unto salvation, and God wrote down their names in the Book of Life of the Lamb.

In the Bible, almost always, a wandering sheep is a picture of an elect child of God who is by nature lost in trespasses and sins. There are many verses to show this. One that you know by heart:

Isaiah 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

It is true that all the people in the world have gone astray. There is NONE righteous, NO NOT ONE. But in Isaiah 53 God is not speaking about everyone in the whole world. God did not lay the sins of all the people in the world on the Lord Jesus, but only “the iniquity of us all”, which means the sins of all of us whom the Lord Jesus came to save, which means “all the elect”. All of us were born as lost sheep in this world were Satan is the prince of the power of the air, and all of us sooner or later come to realize that we are lost sinners in need of a Savior. And God makes sure that all of us will sooner or later be drawn to the Lord Jesus, until our number is complete. Let me say a few words about:

That complete number, 100, which is actually 10 x 10.

The number 10 signifies completeness. For example, when God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt He brought 10 plagues upon Egypt; when God gave the children of Israel His Covenant, He gave them 10 Commandments; God represents the complete New Testament Church at the end of time by 10 virgins of whom 5 are wise and 5 are foolish virgins; in the second parable of Luke 15 we see that 10 silver coins make a complete set, and in the first parable of Luke 15 we see that 10 x 10 = 100 sheep makes a complete set of sheep. And there are many more examples.

The 100 sheep are a picture of the complete set of all the elect of God. The principle that God is teaching us here in this parable is that NOT ONE OF THEM WILL REMAIN LOST. They all will be found. God committed Himself to save all who were written in the Book of Life of the Lamb before the foundation of the world.

Now, how did this one get lost?

And how was he found?

Matthew 18:12
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

All we like sheep have gone astray. We went astray in Adam, and we went astray from the day we were born. This one sheep represents each one of us who became saved. But let us be clear about this: This sheep does not represent a sheep that was found and got lost again, and was found again. In other words, this sheep does not represent a “Backslider”. This sheep does not represent a person who was saved, and then wandered away from the faith, and then was saved again. Oh No! There are no “Backsliders” in the Kingdom of God. The Bible teaches that the Saints will persevere in the faith. If you find that you are presently living a life away from God, then you have never been converted.

And how was this sheep found?

The Shepherd must Himself seek that which is gone astray. The Shepherd must come into this sin cursed world; The Shepherd must take on a human body; The Shepherd must be subject to all the Laws of God for mankind; The Shepherd must seek out all the sins of everyone of His sheep, take those sins upon Himself and on the Cross be subject to the wrath of God upon all those sins. That is the great mercy of God. That is why we read in:

Galatians 3:13
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Galatians 3:14
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Before we were saved we were at enmity with God. Christ came to reconcile us to God in this way. Therefore the Saints have peace with God and are not afraid to stand before God when this body dies.
But no one can hinder God from saving His elect.
God has already promised this in the Old Testament.

Ezekiel 34:11
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.

Ezekiel 34:12
As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

Ezekiel 34:13
And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.

Ezekiel 34:14
I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.

Ezekiel 34:15
I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 34:16
I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

What a tender loving care of God as the Good Shepherd of His sheep. God is writing, through the pen of Ezekiel, to us. The time period of this writing was after Jerusalem had been destroyed and the remnant of the children of Israel were captives in Babylon. This was a period of great tribulation for Israel, and this is a picture similar to the New Testament Church near the end of time. And God comforted the children of Israel as He is comforting us. Paraphrased He says: “There will be an end to this tribulation and I will take you home. I will take you to the high mountains of Israel, which means: I will take you to the heavenly Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ and I will give you rest, and I will wipe away all tears from your eyes, for the former things are passed away and I will make all things new.”

Such is the love of God for those who are His people, His chosen ones. And no one can hinder God from saving His elect, and pouring out His love over them.

Did you also see that God’s love is not for everybody in the world?

God said in verse 16: “But I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.”

Who are those that are coming under the Judgment of God?

Those who are still spiritually dead. O yes, they have heard the Gospel, but they still have an unconverted soul. The Savior has not called them. What a contrast with the elect:

Jesus Calls Them by Name

In this section we are going to see HOW the Lord Jesus finds His sheep and saves His sheep.

John 10:3
To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

Now, read carefully what God has written here. It does not say: “He calleth the sheep by name”, but it says: “He calleth His own sheep by name”. His own sheep were those who had been given to Him by the Father from all eternity. And when He calls them, all of these sheep must come to Him, for it is written: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to me”. These sheep are all the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and they are all going to be found. When Jesus speaks of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He is not strictly speaking of the Jews, but He is speaking of all the elect, all the sheep that belong to His household, because Christ is the Israel who is referred to. To the unbelieving Jews the Lord Jesus is saying:”But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep”.

Is that not exciting?

The Lord Jesus knows our name, and He calls us personally, one by one out of the fold wherever we were, and takes us into His fold.

Have you heard His call?

John 10:3 says: “The sheep hear His voice”, and the next verse says: “For they know His voice”, and the next verse says: “They know not the voice of strangers”. The Father chose us to be His Bride;

Is it not exciting to hear the voice of the Bridegroom?

He knows us, and we know Him. That is what we read in:

John 10:14
I am the Good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

John 10:15
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Wow! He knows us as intimately as He knows the Father. And because He knows us and loved us, He was not just willing to lay down His life, but He did lay down His life for the sheep.

For which sheep did Christ lay down His life?

Only for His sheep. All others in the world He passed by. He passed by the goats, and the wolves, and the false shepherds and all others that know not God.

John 10:16
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Here the Lord Jesus is speaking about His elect worldwide. He speaks about all His other sheep in the world who were not present in the ring of disciples that were around Him at that time. He lays down His life for “all the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:52). And did you notice that Jesus did not say: “Other sheep I shall have”, but He said: “Other sheep I have”. They were His already, because the Father gave them to Him from all eternity. Jesus did not say: “If they are willing to listen”, but He said, “they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

He brings them in, one by one

Let’s return to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 15. The publicans and sinners were drawn to listen to the Lord Jesus, but the Scribes and Pharisees were murmuring against Him, saying, “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them”.

What an awful thing this Jesus of Nazareth is doing?

Can’t He find better company to eat with?

And then Jesus told this parable to them:

Luke 15:4
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

Luke 15:5
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Luke 15:6
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Here the Lord Jesus starts out a little differently than in Matthew 18:12. If I may paraphrase, Jesus says: If any man of you will be in this situation, and you lose one sheep, would you not go after that lost sheep until you have found it? How much more should you expect this of the Good Shepherd who cares for the souls of every single one of His people? He brings them in one by one. Not one of them may remain lost.

Did you notice that the lost sheep do not come to Him?

The Shepherd must go and find them one by one. Every effort is focused on finding that one sheep, and then the next one, and then the next one. No cost is too great; every possible hindrance is put aside.
But now let’s look at the record.

When the Lord Jesus went back to Heaven, and the faithful disciples gathered in the upper room, how many faithful were there?

Only 120. That is not much.

How can the Shepherd bring in the millions of Saints who initially are lost sheep?

The Lord Jesus said:
“As the Father has sent Me, so send I you”. (John 20:21)

“Christ hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation”. (2 Corinthians 5:18)

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ”. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

We have been appointed to be the witnesses in this world, witnessing of His death and Resurrection for His elect people. But realize now that it is Christ who is doing the seeking and saving of that which was lost. We are just instruments in His hands. It is God who does it all.

Now, that is a great relief to us. We are not perfect preachers like Jesus was. We stumble over our words and sometimes we mess things up. But God did not say that we must give a perfect Gospel presentation to a dead person. He is dead. He cannot hear. We only have to be a willing instrument in God’s hand. We do not receive the credit, and we do not receive the blame either.

He brings them in one by one also means: we do not get into Heaven on the coattails of our parents.

But what about the ninety-nine?

Does the Shepherd not care for the ninety-nine?

He leaves the ninety-nine

Luke 15:4
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

Whom do the ninety-nine sheep represent?

First of all, they are sheep; they are among the elect. Jesus said in verse 7: These are ninety-nine just persons, which means that they already are in His sheepfold, which means that they have already been saved.

But why does Jesus leave them in the wilderness?

This means the wilderness of this world. We know that Jesus “will never leave us nor forsake us” in this world.

Why then did He say it this way?

We find the answer when we look at the great type of the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament, David the son of Jesse. In 1 Samuel 17 the brothers of David are in the army of Saul, fighting the Philistines.

1 Samuel 17:17
And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren;

(Now turn to verse 20)

1 Samuel 17:20
And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.

David did not leave the sheep alone in the wilderness, but he left the sheep with a keeper. The Lord Jesus does not leave the ninety-nine sheep alone in the wilderness, but protected by His servants.

But then we read something strange in Luke 15:7, “ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance”?

Does this mean that after we are saved, we are done repenting?

NO, that is definitely not true.

For example, when David wrote Psalm 32, David was already a saved man, and yet he acknowledges that he was still a sinner.

Psalms 32:5
I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

And in the New Testament we read the same thing in 1 John 1:8.

1 John 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:10
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Therefore the word “repentance” in Luke 15:7 is only indicating a contrast.

Look at the contrast: “Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
The contrast is between one who is saved vs. the 99 already saved.

Rejoice With Me – The Savior is rejoicing!

Luke 15:5
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Luke 15:6
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Luke 15:7
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

When anyone of us has become saved, Christ puts us on His shoulders, so that we cannot be lost again. By this action it is as if He is saying to us: “Thou art mine forever. In My hand I hold thee, in My arms I fold thee, I am thy Redeemer. I will not forget thee”.
Now think about the ninety-nine sheep again.

Why would there be a rejoicing if the ninety-nine who are left in the wilderness would go astray while the Good Shepherd is seeking for the one sheep that was lost?

That would not make much sense. But the answer is given in Matthew’s Gospel:

Matthew 18:13
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

So the ninety-nine went not astray, because they have already been saved, and they are under the safe care of a Keeper. The Bible does not disclose who that Keeper might be.

Another question: Why should there be rejoicing in this day and age?

We see works gospels creeping into most churches, divorce and remarriage are acceptable in most churches, women as deacons and elders are approved in most churches.

Gay is OK in most churches, the first day of the week is no longer the Lord’s Day but it has become a day in which men pursue their own pleasures, most churches have adopted the concept of “Backsliders” which are sometimes called “Carnal Christians”.

Most churches have adopted or are very tolerant about speaking in tongues, or having dreams and visions from God, most churches do not preach any more about Hell, or about Judgment Day, or about the fear of God, and most churches teach that there is a glorious 1000 years coming with Christ reigning from Jerusalem and the Jews evangelizing the world.

Not only are all these errors dreadful sins, but these are sins which are presented to God in a Christian Church, and they are leading people astray who should know better if they were studying the Bible, but they are not. So why should there be any rejoicing in this day and age when we see the Church going down the drain.

The Lord Jesus answered this question in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, here in Luke 15. When only one sinner was saved, in other words: when only one lost sheep was found, “he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing”. There is our example. We should be rejoicing if only one sinner comes to Jesus.

We can’t help but rejoice with Him

This is a joy and a rejoicing that is different from that which most people know. It is a joy accompanying when someone is saved. Anyone of us who have been witnessing, and perhaps have experienced that someone through our efforts became saved, can testify to the fact that it brings exceeding great joy. It is a joy that is greater than the world has to offer.

This is what drives us to go to work to bring the Gospel here or there. In every Saint there is that urgent desire to be a witness, and to be part of an outreach effort to save souls throughout the world.

For example, can you describe your joy when someone becomes saved for whom you have prayed for years?

It is indescribable. Therefore, never give up praying for that person whom you presently have in mind.
Three times does the Lord Jesus say in this parable that He is rejoicing when only one sinner comes to repentance. In verse 5, “He layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing”.

In verse 6, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.”

And in verse 7, “Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth”. He brings them in one by one.

This is also expressed Psalm 126:5.

Psalms 126:5
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

Psalms 126:6
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

These verses are not speaking about a farmer’s fortune in his field. They are speaking about sowing the seed of the Word of God, and rejoicing when God brings the increase. And just like the farmer’s harvest entirely depends on what God decides to give him, so the spiritual farmer depends entirely on God to give the increase.

So, when you engage in this business of sowing the seed of the Word of God, don’t wait rejoicing until you see ten or thirty souls come to life. Only one is enough.
We are in the business of robbing Satan’s treasure chest. And when only one soul has come to Jesus, remember that the Lord Jesus said in:

Mark 8:36
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Mark 8:37
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

That is the value of just one soul. It is of greater value than this entire material world with all its kingdoms, and cities, and houses and cars are worth. So, don’t wait rejoicing. The return on our investment is greater than any stock can give you. This is the most profitable business we can get our hands into.

Therefore, any ‘Church’ that decides to cut their evangelism program is committing suicide.

But there are more reasons why we can rejoice. Because we too will not be lost We read in:

Luke 15:1
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

If Jesus could love the publicans and harlots and rejoice in their salvation, then there is hope for me too. In fact, no matter how great my sin, that sin too can be forgiven.

How can we know that we too have been forgiven by Christ on the Cross?

First look at the parable and look for the evidence the life of the sheep.
We read in:

Luke 15:5
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

When the Lord Jesus has put this sheep on His shoulders, this was one sheep that could not get away until He came all the way into His heavenly home. This was one sheep that got to know the Lord Jesus very well, and this was one sheep that led a life very close to the Shepherd. This was one very happy sheep. That is the lesson we learn from this parable.

How can we know that we too have been forgiven by Christ on the Cross?

Now look at your own life and look for the evidence like you saw the evidence in the life of this sheep.

Do we find in ourselves an earnest ongoing desire to do the will of God?

Do we find in ourselves a desire to get to know the Lord Jesus through His Word? Do we find in ourselves a desire to live very close to Jesus?

Are we happy about that, or do we want to break loose?

Ask yourself these questions, and be honest with yourself.

And if you have found that the Lord Jesus has indeed suffered and died for all your sins, because you have this unexplainable desire to live very close to Him, then there is great rejoicing in your heart. Then your life will be directed by Him, you will be happy about that,
(Hebrews 12:2) and you will be “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Your whole life will be directed upward. You are no more living for some fleeting pleasures of this life, but your focus is on the life to come. That is indeed a cause for great rejoicing.

In this Parable of the Lost Sheep, to sum it up, the Lord Jesus was seeking for one of His lost sheep, me, and He saw me from a great distance away: He saw me before the foundation of the world, and He saw that I was walking on the road to Hell. He caught up with me and passed by me for a moment, and went to where I was heading: Hell. There He paid for my sins, and on His way back He picked me up, and put me on His shoulders and carries me home to Heaven all the way.

By Alfred Chompff

One Comment on “A Study Of Luke 15:1-7

  1. My heart was Sooooo amazed and touched by what I read. I was moved beyond measure.

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