Joy over a repentant sinner (Lk 15:7-15:7)

“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.”

 

λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὕτως χαρὰ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ἔσται ἐπὶ ἑνὶ ἁμαρτωλῷ μετανοοῦντι ἢ ἐπὶ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα δικαίοις οἵτινες οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν μετανοίας.

 

Luke had Jesus conclude this parable about the lost sheep.  Jesus said with a solemn pronouncement (λέγω ὑμῖν) that there would be more joy in heaven (ὅτι οὕτως χαρὰ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ἔσται) over one repentant sinner (ἐπὶ ἑνὶ ἁμαρτωλῷ μετανοοῦντι) than over the 99 righteous people (ἢ ἐπὶ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα δικαίοις) who do not need repentance (οἵτινες οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν μετανοίας).  This explanation of the lost sheep parable can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:14, with some minor changes, indicating a Q source.  Luke compared this lost sheep to a repentant sinner.  In Matthew, Jesus explained that it was not the will of his heavenly Father (οὕτως οὐκ ἔστιν θέλημα ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς) that these little ones should be lost or perish (ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μικρῶν τούτων).  The heavenly Father did not want to lose anyone, just like the good shepherd did not want to lose any one of his wandering sheep.  Have you ever lost someone close to you?

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The found sheep (Lk 15:5-15:5)

“When the shepherd

Has found it,

He lays it

On his shoulders,

Rejoicing.”

 

καὶ εὑρὼν ἐπιτίθησιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ὤμους αὐτοῦ χαίρων,

 

Luke had Jesus continue his story or parable.  When this shepherd found the lost sheep (καὶ εὑρὼν), he would lay it on his shoulders (ἐπιτίθησιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ὤμους αὐτοῦ), rejoicing (χαίρων).  This parable of the lost sheep can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:13, with some minor changes, indicating a Q source.  Jesus then had a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  If this shepherd had found his one lost sheep (καὶ ἐὰν γένηται εὑρεῖν αὐτό), would he rejoice over that more than over the 99 sheep that had never wandered away (ὅτι χαίρει ἐπ’ αὐτῷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα τοῖς μὴ πεπλανημένοις)?  Every single sheep was precious in the sight of this good shepherd.  Do you think that everyone is precious in the sight of God?

Explanation of the parable of the lost sheep (Mt 18:14-18:14)

“Thus,

It is not the will

Of my Father in heaven

That one of these little ones

Should be lost.”

 

οὕτως οὐκ ἔστιν θέλημα ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μικρῶν τούτων.

 

This explanation of the lost sheep parable can also be found in Luke, chapter 15:7, with some minor changes, as Luke has this lost sheep as a repentant sinner.  Jesus explained that it was not the will of his heavenly Father (οὕτως οὐκ ἔστιν θέλημα ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς) that these little ones should be lost or perish (ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μικρῶν τούτων).  Thus, this was the simple straightforward explanation.  The heavenly Father did not want to lose anyone, just like the good shepherd did not want to lose one of his lost sheep.

The parable of the lost sheep (Mt 18:12-18:13)

“What do you think?

A shepherd

Has a hundred sheep.

If one of them has gone astray,

Does he not leave

The ninety-nine

On the mountains?

He goes in search

Of the one that went astray.

If he finds it,

Truly!

I say to you!

He rejoices over it

More than over the ninety-nine

That never went astray.”

 

Ἦλθεν γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.

Τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ; ἐὰν γένηταί τινι ἀνθρώπῳ ἑκατὸν πρόβατα καὶ πλανηθῇ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν, οὐχὶ ἀφήσει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη καὶ πορευθεὶς ζητεῖ τὸ πλανώμενον;

καὶ ἐὰν γένηται εὑρεῖν αὐτό, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι χαίρει ἐπ’ αὐτῷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα τοῖς μὴ πεπλανημένοις.

 

This parable of the lost sheep can also be found in Luke, chapter 15:3-6, with some minor changes.  In some Orthodox texts there is a line that the Son of Man had come to save those who were lost or destroyed (Ἦλθεν γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός).  Jesus then asked them to think (Τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ) about this parable, although he did not call it a parable like Luke did.  A person or shepherd had 100 sheep (ἐὰν γένηταί τινι ἀνθρώπῳ ἑκατὸν πρόβατα).  One of these sheep wandered away from the rest of them and was lost (καὶ πλανηθῇ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν).  Thus, would he not leave the other 99 sheep in the mountains (οὐχὶ ἀφήσει τὰ ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη)?  He would then search for the lost sheep that had wandered astray (καὶ πορευθεὶς ζητεῖ τὸ πλανώμενον).  Jesus then had a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  If he found that one sheep (καὶ ἐὰν γένηται εὑρεῖν αὐτό) he would rejoice over that more than over the 99 sheep that had never wandered away (ὅτι χαίρει ἐπ’ αὐτῷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἐπὶ τοῖς ἐνενήκοντα ἐννέα τοῖς μὴ πεπλανημένοις).  Every sheep was precious in the sight of this good shepherd.

Against the shepherds of Israel (Ezek 34:1-34:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man! 

Prophesy

Against the shepherds

Of Israel!

Prophesy!

Say to them!

Say to the shepherds!

Thus says Yahweh God!

Ah!

Shepherds of Israel!

You have been feeding

Yourselves!

Should not shepherds

Feed the sheep?’”

As usual, Yahweh told Ezekiel, the son of man, to prophesy. However, this time it is not against a country, but against the shepherds or leaders of Israel. The idea of the leader as shepherd was an ancient Middle Eastern concept that the early Christians also used with Jesus Christ as the good shepherd. These Israelite shepherds or leaders were not feeding their sheep. Instead, they were only feeding themselves.

The return from the Exile (Jer 3:15-3:18)

“‘I will give you shepherds

After my own heart.

They will feed you

With knowledge.

They will feed you

With understanding.

When you have multiplied,

You will have increased in the land.’

Says Yahweh.

‘In those days,

They shall no more say.

‘The ark of the covenant of Yahweh.’

It shall not come to mind.

It will not be remembered.

It will not be missed.

There will not be another one made.

At that time

Jerusalem shall be called

The throne of Yahweh.

All nations shall gather to it.

In the presence of Yahweh,

In Jerusalem,

They shall no more stubbornly follow

Their own evil will.

In those days

The house of Judah shall

Join the house of Israel.

Together they shall come

From the land of the north

To the land that I gave your ancestors

For a heritage.’”

Yahweh speaks via Jeremiah about what was going to happen in the future after they returned from the Exile. They would have good shepherd rulers with knowledge and understanding leading them. They would increase and multiply in the promised land of their ancestors.   In a strange sort of comment, the Ark of the Covenant would be replaced by the city of Jerusalem as the throne of Yahweh. Somehow they were going to forget and not miss the Ark of the Covenant. Many nations would come to Jerusalem. This sounds like it was written at the time of the Exile about a future hope for Jerusalem. The returned Israelites would no longer follow their own evil ways, as the house of Judah would come together with the northern tribes of Israel. They would enjoy the land that was given to them as the heritage of their ancestors.

The appearance of God (Isa 40:9-40:11)

“Get you up to a high mountain!

O Zion!

Herald of good tidings!

Lift up your voice with strength!

O Jerusalem!

Herald of good tidings!

Lift it up!

Fear not!

Say to the cities of Judah!

‘Here is your God!’

See!

Yahweh God comes with might.

His arm rules for him.

His reward is with him.

His recompense is before him.

He will feed his flock

Like a shepherd.

He will gather the lambs in his arms.

He will carry them in his bosom.

He will gently lead the mother sheep.”

Somehow, Second Isaiah was going to present the people with God. God had been unknown, but now he wants to reveal himself. Isaiah, and then Mount Zion, and finally Jerusalem were to go to a high mountain. They were to be the herald of good tidings. They were to announce in a loud voice to the cities of Judah that God was there to be seen. How they would be heard is not clear, but they were not to be afraid. Yahweh would come with his might to rule and to reward. He was going to be like a good shepherd feeding his flock, gathering and carrying the lambs, while gently leading the pregnant sheep.