Many of us are familiar with the Parable Of The Lost Sheep (Luke 15). It’s the one where the shepherd celebrates when he finds the one little lost sheep. The obvious point in the story is that we’re so important, God will come after us to bring us home. But there is a deeper message too in the parable that is often overlooked. It’s quite relevant in today’s “self-saving” culture.
The parable is directed at a group of first century, self-righteous Pharisees and teachers of the law. They’re upset because Jesus is hanging around with the despised: tax collectors and sinners. As the brilliant teacher Jesus was, he tells a story using sheep.
Now, sheep are dumb – to put it mildly. They need lots of care and direction. They get confused and lost frequently. Hence the need for a shepherd. Notice in the parable (full text below), that the shepherd didn’t call his sheep to come home. He didn’t use his staff to prod him along. Instead, he picked him up and put him on his shoulders. Why?
Why didn’t the sheep walk home? The sheep couldn’t make it home. Not without the shepherd. The sheep was worn out, lost, and confused. He needed someone to bring him home. So many of us are like the lost sheep. We’re lost. We’re confused, and we’re slowly dying inside. But Jesus gets us on track. How? He’s the Way. Jesus clears up our confusion with His Truth. And Jesus breathes Life into our dying spirits.
Even as Christians, we might be content to say, “I was lost and Jesus found me.” Then off we go content to work out our own agenda. But without the Shepherd, we’re quickly worn out from our own efforts, lost, and confused. As Jesus was stretched across a wooden beam, the weight of our sin was placed on His shoulders. He took the hit for us. He paid the price to carry us home.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson
Luke 15:1-7 (NIV) – The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.