Friday, November 30, 2007

The Lost Sheep

Matthew 18:12-13 "What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them go astray, won't he leave the 99 on the hillside and go search for the stray? And if he finds it, I assure you: He rejoices over that sheep more than the 99 that did not go astray.

In this parable Jesus is making sure that we believers in Jesus Christ understand our relationship to Him, and more importantly His relationship to us. In this parable Jesus is the shepherd and we are the sheep. I want to show you a few things I saw as I read this parable and make a few observations that I hope will be a blessing to you.

This first thing that I saw as I read this passage is that Jesus is talking about sheep going astray. These were not goats disguised as sheep, these were true sheep. Why do I make this point? Because we have a lot of people in our churches today who think that if a person goes astray and falls into sin that proves that they are not, and were not ever, truly saved, but in this passage Jesus teaches us that sometimes even sheep go astray.

The second thing I noticed as I read this is that it is the shepherd that went in search of the lost sheep. He did not send someone in His place, nor did He say that it was the sheep's own fault that it wondered off and got lost. Neither did He say If the sheep want to come back it knows where to find Me. No the text is clear, it says that Shepherd went and He searched and He found the lost sheep , and then He was the one who brought the sheep back home.

The third thing I noticed is that when the sheep went astray Jesus did not just abandon the other 99 to go and find the one that was lost. The text says that He left them on the hillside when He went to search. I am not a shepherd, but I think it's safe to assume that if the shepherd is going to go searching for a lost sheep he would first make sure that the rest of the flock was safe. In this parable Jesus tells us that the shepherd left the rest of the flock on a hillside; I believe that He is showing us that they were left in a place where they could continue to graze (if that's what sheep do) and that they would be safe until the shepherd returned.

The fourth observation that I made is that when the lost sheep is finally found the shepherd rejoices over it. The text says that He rejoices more over the lost sheep that was found than over the 99 that were not left on the hillside. But please note that Jesus does not say that the shepherd does not also rejoice over the other 99 sheep; He actually says "He rejoices over that sheep more than the 99 that did not go astray." This indicates that the shepherd did rejoice over all of this sheep.

This also tells me that when a lost sheep is found and it is brought back to the flock the rest of the sheep should also join in the rejoicing. We can see another example of this in Luke 15. In this chapter we have the parable of the Prodigal son and at the end of the chapter when the elder son is complaining to his father about the treatment of his returning younger brother the father says, "Son, you have always been with me, and all this is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found." (Luke 15:31-32)

So as you go think about this parable today, rejoice and be glad that you have a shepherd that cares enough for you to search for you if you happen to go astray, and rejoice with the shepherd whenever a wondering sheep is brought back to the flock.
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