So he told them this parable: ‘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? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 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 people who need no repentance. (Luke 15:3-7, NRSV)
This parable is part of the repentance chapter of Luke. At least people say the story of the prodigal son is about repentance. However I don’t think repentance is the main theme of that story. Or this one or the one in between about the lost coin.
If this is about repentance there are questions of how. How does the son repent? That is easy, he decided that he messed up and went home and told the father that he was sorry. But how does a sheep repent? And how does a coin repent?
Does the sheep realize it shouldn’t have run away and find its way back and tell the shepherd, “I’m sorry I’ve been baaaaaaaaad!”
And the coin, does it realize it should not have rolled away and come out of hiding and tell the woman, “I promise I’ll change!”
Not how it will happen. The coin and the sheep are not the features they are parts of the story. But the shepherd looking and the woman looking mimic what God does for us.
He will turn the house upside down to find us and will leave the fold to come and find us when we wondered away. He loves us that much.