The Lost Sheep
How often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? How often should you tolerate teenage rebelliousness? How far should you go to rescue a wayward child? You will find the answers to these questions in the following story.
There was a shepherd who had one hundred sheep. He was a good shepherd who took excellent care of his sheep. They never lack anything. He ensured that his sheep received the best pastureland where they could feed and drink clean water. The shepherd led his sheep in righteousness even through the valley of the shadow of death.
These sheep were fearless because they were confident that their shepherd would always protect and comfort them with his rod and staff. The shepherd anointed their heads with oil and they dwelled safely in his care.
However, one day one of these sheep, a little lamb, strayed away from the fold and wondered off far away in the mountains and was lost. He could not find his way home. During the day, the shepherd counted his sheep and noted that there were only ninety-nine sheep. He became concerned when he realized what must have happened. One of his sheep was lost somewhere in the wilderness.
He counted his sheep once more to be sure because he knew that if one of his sheep was lost he will be eaten by wild animals. He realized that he had to leave the ninety-nine sheep in the wilderness and go after this lost lamb.
Who would he leave to tend to the others while he went off on his quest? There was no other shepherd nearby that could help him. He looked at his ninety-nine sheep with concern but as he thought about that lost ewe lamb that was wandering helplessly in the rough desert he knew he could not leave him to die.
The other ninety-nine sheep were safe because they were in the protection of the flock and there was a greater shepherd – the Lord God – who was looking out for them. With that assurance in mind, he went to search for his lost sheep. He spent the entire afternoon searching the mountainside but to no avail.
As the sun began to set and darkness swept quickly down in the valley he began to lose hope and just as he was about to give up he heard a weak bleating coming from the bushes near the crevice of the rock. He rushed quickly to the sound and frantically began to rip away the bushes with his staff.
Suddenly, he saw two dark shiny eyes staring at him pitifully. He had found his lost sheep at last. He was weak, battered and bruised. The shepherd gently lifted his sheep and placed him on his shoulder and rushed back to the pasture as fast as he could run and placed him among the others. He cleaned the bruises on the lamb’s body and poured on the oil and wine. Words could not express the joy he felt because he had found his sheep that was lost.
When the shepherd returned home with all his sheep he invited all his friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate with him because he had found his sheep that was lost. He was happier for this sheep that had gone astray more than the ninety-nine that never strayed.
Likewise, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents more than the ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance because the Son of man has come to save that which was lost. It is not the will of the Father in heaven that anyone of these little ones perishes.
Note at the beginning of the chapter in Matthew that little ones referred to the children whom Christ used to answer the disciples question. They wanted to know who was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus took a little child and placed him in the midst of them. He told them that if they were not converted and become as little children they would by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The children represent the future generation. They represent the fulfillment of God’s words when He told Adam and Eve in the beginning to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. The children possess the characteristics such as humility which we need to pattern to live a holy life on earth.
Therefore, the Lord warned us that we should not offend them nor caused any of them to sin. We should not despise the children because the angels who represent them always see the face of the Father in heaven. In other words, children are important and we need to take care of them.
If any of our children or teens strayed from our care we need to search until we find them. They can be led astray by their peers or by physical or psychological issues that they are going through. We cannot afford to give up on our children because God has not given up on them.
As I read the story of the lost sheep the Lord impressed upon my heart that this story represents the move that God is doing for the millennial generation. Many of them has gone astray and the Lord need us the parents, teachers, guardians, pastors to literally searched for them until we win them back to God.
References: Psalms 23; Luke 15:4-7; Matthew 18:1-14; 21-35
Images courtesy of pixabay.com