Summary: Jesus wants Christians to be together like a shepherd wants his sheep to reside in flocks. This message reflects on why Christians should share in community with one another.
WHY ARE WE HERE?
• A chaplain accompanied a volunteer militia led by Benjamin Franklin back in 1756. To defend the Pennsylvania colony against Indian attacks, Franklin led his recruits in the building of a fort in the Blue Mountain region. Once established inside the wall, the chaplain — “a zealous Presbyterian,” as Franklin called him in his autobiography — complained that few of the men were showing up for his worship services.
Franklin, ever the practical man, solved that problem by putting the chaplain in charge of the daily ration of rum. Franklin told the preacher, “It is, perhaps, below the dignity of your profession to act as steward of the rum, but if you were only to distribute it out after prayer service, you would have them all about you.”
The chaplain accepted that duty, and Franklin reports that thereafter, “never were prayers more generally and more punctually attended.”
That solved the attendance problem, but we might question exactly why those militia volunteers were there.
Why are you here?
That is a deep question with which people have wrestled from the beginning of time: What is my purpose, my goal, my ambition to be.
True enough. There is a the philosophical way to look at that question where the emphasis is upon the word, “Why?”
But there is a practical approach that gives attention to the word “Here?”
Why are you “here”
• A simple answer is: Because you are not somewhere else
In today’s parable, Jesus tells a story about a sheep, but not just a sheep…a flock of sheep.
And the passionate work of the shepherd is to get all the sheep together in the same place.
1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 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. Luke 15:1-7 NIV
The Lord is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep of his pasture.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3 NIV
Preachers sometimes talk to the people who are not here.
Rather than tell the people who are not here what they are missing, let’s take the approach of affirming to you who are here why being in the flock is so important.
Why are you here, in community with other followers of Jesus.
Why does the Good Shepherd want us with the flock, not apart from it
WE ARE HERE BECAUSE THE LORD CAME AFTER US
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? Luke 15:4 NIV
Sheep are not pets, but do you do when your cat or dog or hamster is lost? You go off looking?
At one time, we were the lost sheep, vulnerable and unable to help ourselves.
The Lord came after us.
Recognize that this was a “mixed” crowd.
Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2 NIV
In other words, they were deeply religious persons, who took their faith seriously.
They were in the flock. But they didn’t understand that no one is in the flock without the love of the shepherd.
Perhaps significantly, the parable isn’t concerned with how the sheep came to be lost.
Did it wander off unintentionally or was it taken by thieves or frighten and bolted?
It is not mentioned because it is not important. What is important is that the shepherd’s singular concern was to find his sheep before it suffered harm.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6 NIV
For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them Ezekiel 34:11 NIV