“Be careful that you don’t look down on one of these little ones. I say to you that their angels in heaven are always looking into the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off? If he finds it, I assure you that he is happier about having that one sheep than about the ninety-nine who didn’t wander off. In the same way, my Father who is in heaven doesn’t want to lose one of these little ones (Matthew 18:10-14, Common English Bible).
When we read today’s lesson, from a business perspective, it makes no sense. Why would a shepherd leave the overwhelming majority of his flock unattended to go out and search for one that wandered away? Sure, the one sheep is valuable but by leaving the flock unattended would leave 99 times the value in danger of loss. Sheep are not the most intelligent animals God created and if one would wander away, even under the diligent watch of the shepherd, the other 99 could disappear while the shepherd was out chasing down that one lost sheep. Perhaps if there were two shepherds there it would make more sense.
The truth is, however, this parable isn’t about what makes good business sense! It also isn’t about a finite being who is the shepherd, it is about an infinite God who can watch over each of us while still pursuing those who have wandered from the flock or perhaps have never been part of the flock.
When the shepherd, who has the infinite power to watch over the flock and at the same time pursue a wandering sheep, when that maverick comes home, it is reason to celebrate. As for the rest of the sheep, there isn’t need to celebrate them at that moment, they are already part of the flock. The way I see it, God celebrated our return when we were brought back to the flock.
Without question, the sheep in this parable are we who follow Christ or at least for the wanderer, a would-be Christ follower. And, as I have already said, sheep are not the most intelligent animals of the creation. Sometimes we aren’t either. It becomes easy for us to wander from the place God wants us to be, calls us to be. We know where we belong and yet all too often, we still wander. We need to be permanently on guard to insure that we do not wander.
I am reminded of the old song, “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart.” The second verse says, “I have ceased from my wand’ring and going astray, since Jesus came into my heart; And my sins which were many are all washed away, since Jesus came into my heart.”
It is my prayer that I truly have “…ceased from my wand-ring and going astray…” I know, “My sins which were many are all washed away…” I pray the same for you.
Where have you wandered? How did the ever-watchful Shepherd find you?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved