Parable of the Lost Sheep: Verse, Meaning & Lesson

The Parable of the Lost Sheep is in Matthew 18:12–14 and Luke 15:3–7. Jesus told this parable to convey that God’s love is so great for His chosen people that He will go to any length to find and bring back even one lost sinner.

This guide gives you a complete summary of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, including the verses in Scripture, the meaning, and lessons that can be applied to the Christian life.

Parable of the Lost Sheep In Scripture

Matthew 18:12–14 – Parable of the Lost Sheep

12  “What do you think? If a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine, go to the mountains, and seek that which has gone astray? 13  If he finds it, most certainly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14  Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Read Matthew 13

Luke 15:3–7 – Parable of the Lost Sheep

He told them this parable:  “Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that was lost, until he found it?  When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.”

Read Luke 15

Parable of the Lost Sheep Meaning

This parable means that God’s love and compassion extend to every individual He has called, and He rejoices greatly when a lost sinner repents and is brought back into the fold, just as a shepherd rejoices over finding a lost sheep.

Jesus told this metaphor to convey that God’s love is so great that He will go to any length to find and bring back even one lost sinner, celebrating their return more than the ninety-nine who never strayed.

New book now available - Profound Parables - Get your copy

This parable was directed at the Pharisees and scribes who were criticizing Him for associating with sinners, to illustrate God’s boundless love for every individual He has chosen and His joy over the repentance of a sinner. This was in stark contrast to the Pharisees and scribes who were self-righteous and viewed others with contempt.

Parable of the Lost Sheep Lessons

God’s Active Pursuit

The main lesson is that God actively seeks out those whom He has called and who are lost or have strayed away from the faith, just as the shepherd searches for a lost sheep. Once God chooses you, He will not let you go.

Value of Every Christian

Another point is that every Christian is precious to God, and He cares for each one individually, as the shepherd cares for each sheep. No one person is favored more or less by God regardless of how good they are or how much they have sinned against Him.

Joy In Repentance

This parable reminds us that there is great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, much like the shepherd’s joy when he finds his lost sheep. In Luke 15:10, Jesus says, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

God’s Inclusive Love

God’s love is inclusive and extends to all who are part of His flock, regardless of their past, symbolized by the shepherd’s acceptance of the lost sheep back into the flock. You cannot out-sin the cross of Jesus. Jesus Christ paid for sins, and no matter what someone’s history is, they are covered by His blood because He already paid for it all.

Encouragement to Follow

A deeper lesson here is that Christians are encouraged to follow the example of the shepherd, showing love and compassion to those who are lost or in need of guidance. We should not act self-righteous, judge others for their sins, or hold others with contempt.


Want Your Own Copy of Jesus’ Parables Complete With Interpretations and Life Applications?

Grab Our NEW Profound Parables Book

Discover the power and purpose of Jesus’ teachings through this comprehensive study guide.

Profound Parables Book

Read More Parables In the Bible

The Parable of the Lost Sheep is just one of many parables in the Bible. Use the links below to explore more of Jesus’ parables, their meanings, and life lessons.

Summary of the Parable of the Lost Sheep

We hope you enjoyed this summary of the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

As you discovered, the Parable of the Lost Sheep appears in Matthew 18:12–14 and Luke 15:3–7. And the primary meaning of the parable is that will go to any length to find and bring back even one lost sinner. The life lessons include God actively pursues His chosen people, there is value in every Christian, Heaven rejoices when every sinner repents, God’s love is inclusive regardless of your past, and we are encouraged to follow the example of the shepherd by showing love and compassion to those who are lost.

Profound Parables Book - Check It Out

Explore our free chapter-by-chapter summaries for every Book of the Bible.

X