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Summary: While our Lord was here on earth, He was continually pursuing lost souls. He was seeking lost men and women, and for that reason, He intentionally placed Himself, where He could come into contact with them, and He was so kind to them, that they crowed ar

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The Parable of the Lost Sheep

While our Lord was here on earth, He was continually pursuing lost souls. He was seeking lost men and women, and for that reason, He intentionally placed Himself, where He could come into contact with them, and He was so kind to them, that they crowed around Him, to hear Him speak. His audience was an odd assembly and a disreputable crowd. I am not surprised that the Pharisee, when he saw the congregation, sneered and said, “He collects around Him the outsiders of our community, the degraded men who collect taxes for the Romans, the prostitutes of the town and all the riffraff. Instead of giving them the cold-shoulder, He welcomes them and makes friends with them. He even eats with them. I heard that He went to the house of Zaccheus, and to Levi’s house, and that He ate there with those low class people.” The Pharisees thought as unfavorably of Jesus as they possibly could, because of the crowd that surrounded Him. And so, when He gives this parable, He is defending Himself;-not that He cared much about what they thought, but so that they would not have any excuses for speaking so angrily about Him. He tells them that He was seeking the lost, and where else should He be found, except among them. Should a doctor avoid the sick? Should a shepherd avoid the lost sheep? Wasn’t He where He should be, when He welcomed all the publicans and sinners to hear him speak?

Jesus defended Himself by asking a question of the men themselves; for He asked, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” No argument makes itself felt more impressively than one which comes close to home, and that is how Jesus put it. They were silenced, even if they were not convinced. It was a particularly strong argument, because in their case it was only a sheep that they would go after, but in His case it was something that was infinitely more precious than all the flocks of sheep in all of Israel; because it was the souls of men that He sought to save. His argument could be stated like this, “If you men would go after a lost sheep, and track it until you found it, how much more may I go after lost souls, and follow them as they wander here and there, until I can rescue them?” The act of going after the sheep was the part of the parable that Jesus wanted them to understand the most: the shepherd takes a route which he would never think of taking if it was only for his own pleasure; his path is not chosen for his own pleasure, but for the sake of the stray sheep. Jesus would never have come among publicans and sinners because it suited His taste and pleasure: if He was after His own ease and comfort He would have mingled with only the heavenly angels, and with His Heavenly Father; but He was not thinking of Himself, and so He went where the lost sheep were; “for the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” This parable is not only an answer, but it is also an instruction for us. Let’s look at those things which Jesus wants to teach us.

The first thing that catches our attention is that the shepherd, who has lost his sheep, has only one thought, and the Lord Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd has just one thought, when He sees a man or woman that is lost, wandering into sin.

The shepherd, who has 100 sheep looks over his flock and counts only 99. He counts them again, and he notices that a certain one has gone: It may be a white sheep with black marks on its feet: he knows all about it, for “the Lord knoweth them that are his.” The shepherd has a photograph of the wanderer in his mind’s eye. He no longer thinks much about the 99 who are feeding in the pastures, but his mind is in turmoil because of the one lost sheep. He is overcome by a single thought, “a sheep is lost!” This disturbs his mind more and more-“a sheep is lost.” He cannot eat; he cannot go home; he cannot rest while one sheep is lost.

Those who have a tender heart will find it disturbing to think about a lost sheep. A sheep is absolutely defenseless, once it has left its shepherd. If a wolf happened to find it, it would be torn to pieces on the spot. The shepherd thinks, “What will become of my sheep. At this very moment, a wolf could be ready to rush upon it, and it is absolutely helpless.” A sheep cannot fight, and it can’t even outrun its enemies. That makes his worried owner even more upset and he thinks again-“My sheep is lost, and may even die a horrible death.” A sheep is probably the most “stupid” animal there is. If we have lost a dog, it may find its way home; a horse may find its way back to the stable; but a sheep will wander on and on, until it is even more lost. It will never think to return to a place of safety. The man can think only of the sheep-“A sheep is lost, and it could be anywhere by now. It may be staggering from exhaustion: it may be far away from green pastures, and be close to dieing from hunger.” A sheep is shiftless, and doesn’t know how to take care of itself. A camel can scent water from a long way off, and a vulture can spy its food from a great distance; but a sheep, can’t find anything. Of all of God’s creatures, a lost sheep is probably the worst off. You may want to ask the shepherd why he is so concerned about one lost sheep, when he has 99 more. I believe that he may answer, “You are not a shepherd, or you could not ask such a question. The 99 are all safe, and I can think of nothing but the one that is lost.”

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