. . . Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep." Luke 15:6b
Harry Voelker had his prized 1956 Ford F-100 pickup stolen in 1972.
His vehicle was gone and Voelker went into a period of mourning. Rather than throwing away his pink slip and all the information and memories he had of the vehicle, he kept them tucked away.
He attended auto shows to see if it would pop up. It didn't.
He kept his eyes peeled for the vehicle, but it never appeared.
It never showed until about a month ago when he received a phone call from the California Highway Patrol. They told him they had found his vehicle in Modesto. It was being registered by a young couple who had bought it from a relative in Texas. None of them had any idea the truck had once been stolen.
Not surprising since the Ford had disappeared 38 years ago.
Now almost everybody is happy. I say almost because the young couple who bought the truck are out their cash and the vehicle they thought they were getting. Even so, Harry has his vehicle back; justice has been served, and the police are able to close a long-standing case.
When I heard that story, I remembered -- as you probably did -- the parable Jesus told about the shepherd who went looking for a wandering sheep.
Jesus tells us that when one of his flock went AWOL, the shepherd went after it. He left the 99 and went after that wandering fleece. The Savior concluded the story by saying the happy shepherd called his friends together to help him give thanks that the lost sheep had been found.
Actually, that's not quite the end of the story. Jesus said, "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 persons who do not need to repent" (Luke 15:7).
In short, the purpose of the parable is to extol the benefits and necessity of repentance. Although it is no longer fashionable in religious circles to say so, an acknowledgment of our sin and our need for a Savior is the prelude to the acknowledgment and appreciation of the Redeemer.
And truly, we do need a Savior. Each day we sin. Each day we put ourselves at variance with God's will and wishes. This is precisely why Jesus came into this world: to sacrifice Himself and offer forgiveness to all who would acknowledge their sins and believe on Him as their heaven-sent Substitute. God grant this day that you and I are among those who sorrow over their sin.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, today I give thanks that You decided to save me. Without any merit or worthiness in me and without any indication that You would be welcomed -- and every sign that You would not -- You came into this world to offer Yourself as my Ransom. May I repent of that which I have done wrong, and live my life in thanksgiving to You. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries