12 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? 13 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.
There’s a huge difference between knowing what the right thing to do is and doing the right thing. Today’s text may be one of the more familiar illustrations Jesus gives: this idea that a leader of sorts would leave the majority to help the minority because of everyone’s inherent value. It’s a great, short, straight-forward example that we’ve probably heard used countless times, maybe even as easy to understand illustrations on social media of how the church universal has not always been this way despite this being one of our teachings.
Notice how Jesus presents this story though. He begins with, “What do you think?” I can almost hear the exasperation in His voice reading that: “Oh come on guys, do I have to spell it out for you?!” And then, when He presents the hypothetical scenario, it’s not “would the shepherd do this or that” no, it’s “wouldn’t he do this thing that we all know is the right choice? I mean, duh!”
But that’s the thing about making the right, most compassionate choice: it’s often the most difficult one for us to follow through on unfortunately. We justify and justify until we’re blue. Even thought we know that doing such and such would be the right thing, we say that we just couldn’t because of this or that. In today’s text, Jesus just isn’t taking it. Jesus knows it’s hard, Jesus knows it changes our plans and our priorities, but Jesus also knows that we can do the right thing. Yes, we believe in God, but God also believes in us.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
What comes to mind when you read this text? Illustrate it, what does it look like through our lens today? What modern scenario or issue does this text call to us to act compassionately on?
Prayer: God our Shepherd, when we have gone astray, you have never, ever abandoned us. Thank you, Lord. May we remember to treat our neighbors with the same level of care. Amen.