4 “Suppose someone among you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them. Wouldn’t he leave the other ninety-nine in the pasture and search for the lost one until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he is thrilled and places it on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives.
We’ve all gone missing. It’s in the nature of a sheep to keep its nose to the ground in pursuit of tasty greens. By the time it realizes it’s lost, the sheep is far away from the flock and in danger. That’s when the sheep cries out to the good shepherd to come and save it. The good shepherd arrives and saves the sheep. Children love this story – face it, we all love this story! But as with all parables Jesus tells us, there’s more going on here than meets the eye.
Jesus uses this story to tell us about who God is, what the Kin-dom is like and what God has planned for us. This is our own story of being lost, crying out for God’s forgiveness and being saved. This is the story of God’s faithfulness, God’s love for us and God’s grace. All of heaven rejoices when we’re found and restored to the flock.
Carried home on the good shepherd’s shoulders we’re not just put back into the flock as a wayward sheep, but we’re celebrated and cared for as a precious family member. God celebrates the sinner who repents because we were lost and now we’re found. Our hearts and lives are changed by the radical love and grace of God.
In the Old Testament, God is often described as the good shepherd, the protector of God’s people. No shepherd would leave the ninety-nine sheep unprotected to go search for one missing sheep. But God’s Kin-dom turns the world’s expectations upside down, for the shepherd leaves the flock to save the missing sheep, because without that one sheep, the flock is incomplete. And we are incomplete without the fellowship of all our flock, our church community where God has gifted us to serve.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you gone missing? God hears our cries and seeks us out when we stray, when we’re hurt, lost and alone. God celebrates us when we’re found and brings us home. Take a moment to sit in God’s presence to experience God’s love and grace for you as your good shepherd.
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, you are the good shepherd of our lives, seeking us, saving us. Help us to see all who are lost and respond in love. Amen.