In Luke 15 we find the story of “The Prodigal Son”. This story has become the “grace story” of the Bible. Son asks Dad for inheritance, son leaves home, son spends all his money, son ends up homeless and hungry, son crawls back home, Dad welcomes him back with widely opened arms! Amazing Grace.
On one hand this story makes sense. Which one of us that has children wouldn’t throw open the doors to our children in some way if they lost their way yet wanted to come back home. Especially as humble as this boy was in returning.
There is another story in Luke 15 that illustrates grace much more clearly to me. It is the story of redemptive grace. However it doesn’t make much sense in our world.
Jesus tells the story of a shepherd that has 100 sheep. Yet in the night, one of the sheep slips away and cannot be found. Risking 99 obedient and safe sheep, the Shepherd leaves them in the open country where they could also be lost, or worse, injured and killed.
Why does he leave them? To search for the one sheep that he cannot find. The wayward sheep that didn’t have enough sense to stay within the safety of the group. The adventurous sheep that wanted to see what was on the other side of the hillside. The rebellious sheep that didn’t want to be a part of the herd.
The shepherd risks them all to save the one.
When he finds his little lost sheep he carries it gently home. Then he calls all his friends to tell them to come and celebrate. He throws a party.
What happened to the other 99? We are not told. I have always assumed they were OK. We are not told. It doesn’t matter. The story is in the value of the 1 and not the 99.
The shepherd is very irresponsible from my viewpoint. His decision to chase the one and put the ninety-nine at risk is, on its face, quite uninitelligent. What he does just doesn’t make sense. If the shepherd was my son, he would be scolded for his poor judgment.
Yet Jesus explains his story. He says, “In the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
The heavens are more excited about sinners then saints. Righteousness doesn’t lead the angels to sing.
Revolutionary grace doesn’t makes sense. It is irresponsible. It wreaks of poor judgment. It doesn’t add up!
What it does do is give everything it has to help the lost sheep find its way home.