Summary: This chapter shows us the attitude of God towards the person who is lost, and compares it with our attitude. Essentially the three parables Jesus tells in this chapter are against the Pharisees who were the shepherds of Israel, but would not care for o
This chapter shows us the attitude of God towards the person who is lost, and compares it with our attitude.
Essentially the three parables Jesus tells in this chapter are against the Pharisees who were the shepherds of Israel, but would not care for or seek after the lost sheep, the kind of people they castigated Jesus for hanging out with. Instead they walled themselves off from "sinners" and wouldn’t even touch or teach them how to reach God. But it also hits us on several levels-what do we think about those who are lost or going astray?
Have you ever lost a child in a grocery store or mall or something? I remember one time when we got home from the store and we lived on a 44 acre parcel up in the mountains where there were lynx and coyotes and snakes-you know, lions and tigers and bears "oh my!" Well we were busy carry bags in from the car when suddenly we noticed our little 1 ½ year old daughter was missing. We knew instinctively that there was danger out there alone for her. Did we just keep putting groceries away until she was late for dinner? No we dropped everything and frantically searched for her.
But if we do that as parents without thinking, why then do we adopt the attitude of superiority and exclusivity when it comes to the family of God? Do you ever notice your attitude towards those "unwashed" who are mastered by sin? Do you feel a little better than-and wonder if you really want them showing up at church on Sunday morning?
That’s the kind of attitude multiplied many times that Jesus dealt with in the Pharisees. The Old Testament has this contrast in attitude:
Verses 1 - 2
It was abhorrent for a Pharisee to eat with someone they considered a "sinner," that is, someone who did not live up to their idea of righteousness because taking a meal with someone meant you had a relationship with them. Jesus attracted the rejected of this world. The question is, do we? What’s your attitude towards the lost? Let’s think about that as we look at these three stories.
The Lost Sheep-verses 1-7
Jeremiah 23:1-4 "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD. 2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: "You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD. ESV
Ezekiel 34:1-6 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds , Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. ESV
But notice the character of God:
Isaiah 40:10-11 0 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. ESV
Generally a flock of sheep was about 100 in size. Each night the shepherd would count the sheep. If one was missing he’d go searching for it.
The Pharisees wouldn’t go after the lost sheep of Israel, but Jesus says God rejoices when a sinner is reached, repents, and comes to him. I wonder if to God humans are like lost sheep that need to be found? It’s a different way of looking at us. Instead of enemies and strangers He thinks of us as missing and He goes after us to bring us back into relationship with Him.