When Jesus was about 30 years old, He left home and began His ministry. Jesus’ ministry was to share the love of God, His Father, with the Jewish people, teaching them that they should love God and love each other. He also did many amazing miracles! A miracle is something only God can do so people always wanted to be wherever Jesus was!
But not everyone was happy with Jesus…the religious leaders were jealous of Him. These religious leaders were men who worked in the temple (like a church) and sometimes they thought they were better than everyone else. They sure didn’t like all of the attention that Jesus was getting.
Jesus loved everyone. He was kind and compassionate, even to people that the religious leaders called “sinners” (people who do bad things). One day, Jesus was eating with these sinners, sharing God’s love with them. When the religious leaders saw it, they couldn’t believe that Jesus would be sitting and eating with people like these sinners!
Jesus knew what the religious leaders were thinking so He shared a story with them. Jesus said, “One day, a shepherd was counting his sheep. The shepherd knew that he had 100 sheep; but when he counted them, there were only 99 – one sheep was missing!
The shepherd left the 99 sheep out in the field to graze while he went to find the one missing sheep. The shepherd looked everywhere! He searched day and night – he would not stop until he found his lost sheep!
Finally, in the distance, he heard a faint cry and he knew right away it was his sheep! The shepherd ran toward the sound of the cry until he saw his little lamb tangled in a briar bush. He carefully pulled the prickly briars from the sheep’s wool and gently picked him up. The shepherd was so happy that he had found his precious sheep! He put the little lamb on his shoulders and carried him back home.
When the shepherd saw his neighbors, he said, “Celebrate with me!! I have found my sheep! He was lost but now he is found!”
When Jesus finished telling His story, He looked at the religious leaders and said, “Just as this shepherd celebrated when he found his lost sheep, all of heaven celebrates when one of these sinners is saved. In fact, there will be more rejoicing over one of these sinners being saved than over you who think you have no sin at all.”
The Bible tells us that Jesus came for all the lost people because He loved them and wanted to save them. Jesus wants us to love others that way, too; to show kindness and compassion to everyone, no matter what. That’s how we change the world for Jesus! And when a lost person believes in Jesus and asks for forgiveness for their sins, all of heaven celebrates because that lost person is now saved!!