Dumb parables?

Another great sermon from Pastor Douthwaite, preaching on Luke 15:1-10.  An excerpt:

And so Jesus says: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?”

And the Pharisees and scribes are perhaps thinking to themselves here: What man of them? None of them! Why risk the 99 for the sake of the one? It shouldn’t have wandered off anyway. It’s probably too dumb to stay with the flock. But to preserve the 99, that – you see, Jesus – is what’s called an “acceptable loss.” But even so, if one did find that sheep, why rejoice? It needs discipline, so it won’t wander off again. Hmm . . .

Then Jesus says: “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?”

Well, this parable makes a little more sense, for sure, you’re talking about money here. Of course you’d look for lost money!

But then, Jesus continues, “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ ”

Um, no. Because if you found this coin you’ve just been looking so hard for, why spend it on your neighbors? They didn’t help you look for it, did they? And why would you spend so much time looking for it if you were just going to spend it? Hmm . . .

“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. . . . [T]here is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Joy? Why? If a sinner repents, he’s just doing what he was supposed to do. And he shouldn’t have sinned in the first place! So why rejoice? These are dumb parables, Jesus. Nobody does these things.

Well, not nobody. Jesus does them. The true Shepherd. The Good Shepherd. The Shepherd for whom there are no “acceptable losses.” The Shepherd who laid down His life for all the sheep. The Shepherd who searches and does not give up. The Shepherd who loves His sheep more than you can possibly imagine. The Shepherd whose heart is filled with joy whenever one of His sheep is found. No matter who they are, no matter where they have wandered, and no matter how long they have been lost, there is joy in heaven and in the heart of the Good Shepherd when each and every sheep is back, safe and sound, in His arms.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Pentecost 16 Sermon.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    For many years I was troubled by the Evangelical saying, “Jesus would have died for you if you’d been the only sinner who ever lived.”

    I liked the idea, but it’s not actually stated as such in Scripture, so I was leery of it.

    Then I realized that that’s precisely what these parables mean.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    For many years I was troubled by the Evangelical saying, “Jesus would have died for you if you’d been the only sinner who ever lived.”

    I liked the idea, but it’s not actually stated as such in Scripture, so I was leery of it.

    Then I realized that that’s precisely what these parables mean.

  • Winston Smith

    For those of us who place a high value on reason and logic, the parables demostrate that the Gospel is, from a human perspective, both unreasonable and illogical.

    As a redeemed sinner, I can only say: Thank God.

  • Winston Smith

    For those of us who place a high value on reason and logic, the parables demostrate that the Gospel is, from a human perspective, both unreasonable and illogical.

    As a redeemed sinner, I can only say: Thank God.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Incredible, this selfless love. What a lucky sheep!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Incredible, this selfless love. What a lucky sheep!

  • bunnycatch3r

    I especially like the parable of the lost sheep because the text does not say that he returned the lost sheep back to the flock. If you’re into empire building I suppose you can read into it and suppose that he does.

  • bunnycatch3r

    I especially like the parable of the lost sheep because the text does not say that he returned the lost sheep back to the flock. If you’re into empire building I suppose you can read into it and suppose that he does.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    In the parables Jesus uses earthly kingdom things do describe the heavenly kingdom.

    In the earthly kingdom we are judged only according to what we do. It would be unfair to judge someone according to whom they are. But in the heavenly kingdom we are judge only according to who we are!

    In the parables God is not just in the earthly kingdom sense. He is unreasonably good and his judgement, for the same reason, there look unjust and harsh precisely because he he judging people according to who they are. Eg : “I never knew you”. Relationship.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    In the parables Jesus uses earthly kingdom things do describe the heavenly kingdom.

    In the earthly kingdom we are judged only according to what we do. It would be unfair to judge someone according to whom they are. But in the heavenly kingdom we are judge only according to who we are!

    In the parables God is not just in the earthly kingdom sense. He is unreasonably good and his judgement, for the same reason, there look unjust and harsh precisely because he he judging people according to who they are. Eg : “I never knew you”. Relationship.


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