“1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2But 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. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. 6Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7I 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.”
Who doesn’t celebrate when a lost soul comes home? When a wayward finds its way? How many times have you prayed for someone to get their act together? You might have even gone looking for them, trying to bring them home to safety, to bring home to some sanity. Or, maybe you just gave up on them.
It’s amazing that God chose to be likened to a shepherd, one of the lowest on the totem pole. I don’t think it’s so amazing that we are likened to sheep (and I think we often have it reversed in our minds about who’s who, but that’s another story).
Jesus humbles himself to come after us as a shepherd even though we are the antithesis of who He is.
How that drove the religious leaders nuts! Here they are, thinking they are too good for sinners, showing up in their holy than thou lives and clothes, so perfectly manicured and presented, with all sorts of rules on how to prepare themselves… and Jesus is in a simple robe, a commoner, hanging with the sinners, the lowest of the low, to bring them home.
That’s who He is through. He’s not about pomp and circumstance. He’s about saving lost souls, about bringing us back home to sanity, about healing. Like a shepherd, He might hobble us if we need it, for our own good, even if we don’t see it that way.
I wonder about the 99 who don’t need to repent. Are there that many? Is there even one?
Lord, I’m not sure where I’ve wandered off to. Bring me back to the flock. Show me the way.
“O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light”
We three Kings of Orient Are; 1857, Rev. John Henry Hopkins