Luke 15:1-5

Luke 15:1 (KJB)
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

Jesus had been emphasizing the fact that His ministry was to the poor and outcast and here He puts that into action. Publicans were hated members of Jewish society and the sinners were also outcasts of Jewish society. They had gravitated toward Jesus because He had the words of eternal life and forgiveness, two things which were lacking in the false teachings of the religious leaders. These two verses point out the bigotry which was in action. The religious leaders should have been working with these people to bring them back into the fold, instead they vilified them.

Luke 15:2 (KJB)
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

The scribes and Pharisees who thought themselves to be superior and not even sinners had included Jesus in their denunciation that Jesus receives sinners and even has the audacity to eat with them. Jesus had presented to them a living paradox, the righteous one involved with the unrighteous. They had probably surmised that if Jesus sat with them, then He must have endorsed their lifestyle. The Greek word for “receiveth” carries with it the meaning of “welcome or accept.” This is why the Pharisees and scribes murmured or grumbled.

Luke 15:3 (KJB)
And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

Jesus then responded to their accusations by delivering three parables. All three parables deal with things which are lost and then found.

Luke 15:4 (KJB)
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

His first example was that of a shepherd. A shepherd would have been well known to the people since many of them were shepherds or they knew one. The shepherd and sheep are one of the finest biblical images of the relationship between God and His people. Jesus asks a rhetorical question to the people. He asked them if they would not look for a sheep which was lost even though the other ninety nine were safe? This is not a question of taking inventory but the fact that the shepherd knows his flock. (1 Sam 17:34-35 KJV) And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: {35} And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Here is a good example of the caring shepherd. The lion and bear came into the flock of David and took a lamb. David then went after the lion and took the lamb right out of its mouth and when the lion started to fight back, David grabbed him by the beard and killed him. A beautiful story of the Gospel. Jesus is that shepherd who takes the lamb out of the mouth of the lion, which is Satan, and delivers that lamb, which is a believer, when Satan starts to fight, Jesus slays him or stops him at that point, until the last day when he is slain in the lake of fire forever.

Luke 15:5 (KJB)
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

The shepherd’s search was rewarded and he did not drag the sheep back nor did he place a noose around his neck. Instead, the shepherd was rejoicing that he found his sheep and places it around his shoulders and carries it back to the flock. His attitude was not one of reproach over the carelessness that caused the temporary separation. His rejoicing was so great that when he arrived back at the flock, he called together friends and neighbors.