How does the sheep repent?

When a sheep realizes that it's lost, it freezes, say Dr. Ken Bailey. Because it's terrified, all it can do is bleat, cry out. Even when the sheep hears the voice of its shepherd, it still can't move. The shepherd picks it up and carries it back to the fold. In the Middle East, with its rugged terrain, carrying 45-70 pound sheep is a difficult and dangerous task. It often took two to three days to find and restore a sheep. And what is the response of the good shepherd to such a difficult task? ...JOY.

Jesus continues, "...there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents..." The sheep represents the sinner, which begs the question, "What did the sheep do that resembles repentance?"

To grasp its full meaning, we need to look at all three of these inter-related parables (the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost sons). In them, Jesus declares that he came to earth to find and restore us. And through these parables, according to Dr. Bailey, Jesus is redefining repentance to mean accepting being found. Jesus shows that its his responsibility is to find and restore us. It's our responsibility—our repentance—to accept being found.

Click here for Part 1 of Prodigal

Bible Text

Luke 15: 4-7

Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost." 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.

What does Martin Luther have to do with lost sheep?

The Lost Sheep parable paints the picture of Jesus taking the responsibility for finding us and restoring us. Yet when you look at the work of Martin Luther, there's an emphasis not on Jesus' faithfulness but on our faith, a requirement for salvation. By reading the following backstory, you'll be able to close this gap.

Open a bible and it likely has Martin Luther's fingerprints. His bible translation freed the common man then, but now it can imprison. In the 1500's, it was Luther who was willing to die to proclaim that faith alone saves, not the church. At the time, the church was selling indulgences. Redemption could be bought for a price. In 1517 John Tetzel said in his sermon, "Don't you hear the voices of your dead parents and other relatives crying out, 'Have mercy on us, for we suffer great punishment and pain. From this, you could release us with a few alms....We have created you, fed you, cared for you and left you our goods. Why do you treat us so cruelly and leave us to suffer in the flames, when it only takes a little to save us?'"

If Luther were alive today, he would likely provide an updated translation removing his emphasis on our faith and restoring Jesus’ faithfulness which saves. Prior to Matin Luther, earlier Middle Eastern versions of the New Testament emphasized Jesus' faithfulness, not our faith. For example (there are nine examples in all), prior to Luther, Romans 3:22 read, "This righteousness from God through the faithfulness of Messiah Jesus..." And Luther's translation, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ..." (I’ll send you the seven examples if you write me, Keith Brown)