20 June 2013

Luke 15:4-7

“And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’” (v. 6)


This passage is the first of a series about searching for something that is lost until it is found, sometimes after considerable hard work (see Luke 15:8-10, 11-32). The idea of looking for a lost sheep may only seem profoundly important to those who are farmers or shepherds or live and work in country areas. But in Jesus time, and today in many places, it would be a common occurrence.

Sheep usually prefer to stay together, but even in this country, they may wander as they eat. In wild or mountainous areas finding them all may be very difficult, and some may have been unable to return, or have fallen. The television programme 'Countryfile' has occasionally shown what might be called sheep roundups. The 'lost sheep' image has also become very popular in art and literature, even among those who may not think about the biblical background.

Jesus hints very briefly at what this search might cost. He is not just thinking of the hard work of a search in difficult terrain, but the very real risk to the other sheep if the shepherd is not there to protect them from predators or thieves. In addition, carrying a sheep is not an easy option, especially if it is hurt or wet.

So it is interesting that the focus is on the searcher's joy. This joy leads to an open invitation to a party with presumably lots of food and drink and laughter. It is a triumphant celebration, which apparently believes all the risks were worth it.

To Ponder

  • How do you feel about the idea of heaven as a party?
  • How do you respond to the idea of a searching God?
  • To what extent are you willing or even eager to search for people in need? 

Bible notes author

Revd Alison Tomlin

Alison Tomlin is a supernumerary Methodist minister, who was president of the Methodist Conference in 2010/2011. She has been involved for the last 25 years in leading retreats and offering prayer, accompanying both groups and individuals.