Until They Are Found

It was only recently I noticed that the parable of the prodigal son is the third in a series of parables, all revealing the same crucial point: Something of great value has been lost — a sheep, a coin, and a boy — and that which is lost is helpless to rescue itself from its circumstances and must be sought after diligently, until it is found and restored to where it belongs. The owner or father is not satisfied as long as even one — one sheep, one coin, or one son — remains lost.

Twice in this series, Jesus conveys the heart of heaven: “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” (vs. 7, 10). Doesn’t that imply it is necessary that we repent? Of course, but did the son have to repent before he was received into welcome arms? Did he have a choice about whether his father watched for him, found him, and never gave up on him? Did the straying sheep ultimately have the choice not to rejoin the flock? Did the misplaced coin have a choice not to be swept up and put safely into the purse? Do sinners and unbelievers have a choice when it comes to ultimately being reconciled to their heavenly Father? Might the point be, in any case, that the move to “come home” will eventually and always be agreed upon as desirable for the one lost?

In the parable of the lost sheep, it is the shepherd who goes searching for his missing sheep. He does not wait for the animal to find its way home; he searches it out, puts it on his shoulders, and carries it back to the flock. Similarly the woman from the parable of the lost coin searches by lamplight for her missing coin. She does not wait to happen upon it, or consider it hopelessly lost unless fate brings it to her.

— Julie Ferwerda, Raising Hell, p. 14

Photo: Prince Edward Island, September 25, 2019

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