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.

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New name and status (Isa 62:2-62:5)

“You shall be called

By a new name.

The mouth of Yahweh

Will give you this name.

You shall be a crown of beauty

In the hand of Yahweh.

You shall be a royal diadem

In the hand of your God.

You shall no more

Be termed ‘Forsaken’.

Your land shall no more

Be termed ‘Desolate’.

But you shall be called

‘My delight is in her’.

Your land is ‘Married’.

Yahweh delights in you.

Your land shall be married.

As a young man

Marries a young woman,

So shall your builder

Marry you.

As the bridegroom rejoices

Over the bride,

So shall your God rejoice

Over you.”

Yahweh will give Jerusalem a new name. Zion will be a crown of beauty in Yahweh’s hand. Jerusalem will be like a royal crown in the hand of their God. They will no longer be called forsaken and desolate. They will be called delightful and married because Yahweh delights in them. This marriage is like that of a groom and his new wife. God the builder will marry the land. Just as the groom rejoices over his new bride, so too God will rejoice over his land and its people.

The use of wine (Sir 31:25-31:31)

“Do not try to prove your strength

By drinking wine.

Wine has destroyed many people.

As the furnace tests

The work of the smith,

So wine tests hearts

When the insolent quarrel.

Wine is very life to human beings,

If you drink it in moderation.

What is life to one

Who is without wine?

It has been created

To make people happy.

Wine drunk at the proper time,

Is rejoicing to the heart.

Wine drunk in moderation

Brings gladness to the soul.

Wine drunk to excess

Leads to bitterness of spirit,

Leads to quarrels,

Leads to stumbling.

Drunkenness increases

The anger of a fool

To his own hurt.

It reduces his strength.

It adds wounds.

Do not reprove your neighbor

At a banquet of wine.

Do not despise him

In his merrymaking.

Speak no word of reproach to him.

Do not distress him

By making demands of him.”

Sirach warns that you should not try to show how strong you are by drinking wine since it has destroyed many people. Just as a furnace tests the iron work of a blacksmith, so too wine tests insolent people when they quarrel. However, wine does have a good purpose. It is life itself when taken in moderation. Without wine, our lives would not be happy. Wine at the proper time and in moderation rejoices and gladdens the heart and the soul. On the other hand, over indulging in wine can lead to a bitter spirit, quarrels, and stumbling around. The fool who drinks excessively increases his own anger to his own detriment. Drunkards lose their strength and sometimes get wounded. If you are at a banquet with wine, do not pick an argument with your neighbor. Do not dislike him for having a good time. Do not criticize him or ask him for anything. It is not the right time.

The wicked (Prov 15:26-15:30)

“Evil plans are an abomination to Yahweh.

But gracious words are pure.

Those who are greedy for unjust gain

Make trouble for their household.

But those who hates bribes

Will live.

The mind of the righteous

Ponders how to answer.

But the mouth of the wicked

Pours out evil.

Yahweh is far from the wicked.

But he hears the prayer of the righteous.

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart.

Good news refreshes the body.”

Wicked evil plans are an abomination to Yahweh. Gracious words, on the other hand, are pure. The greedy seek after an unjust gain or profit as they make trouble for their family. If you hate bribes, you will have a long life. The righteous ponder how to answer questions, while the mouths of the wicked pour out evil things. Yahweh stays far away from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous. The light in your eyes rejoices your heart, just as good news refreshes your body.

Yahweh leads me in joy (Ps 16:9-16:11)

“Therefore my heart is glad.

My soul rejoices.

My body also rests secure.

You do not give me up to Sheol!

You do not let your faithful one see the pit!

You show me the path of life.

In your presence

There is fullness of joy.

In your right hand

There are pleasures forevermore.”

The psalmist’s heart is glad. His soul rejoices. His body rests secure. He is content. He will not be given up to Sheol or the pit, the death of the underworld. Instead the psalmist will have the path of life. In the presence of Yahweh, he will be filled with joy and everlasting pleasure. The contrast is stark as this psalm ends between death versus everlasting pleasure, joy, and happiness.