How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? (Matthew 18:12 KJV)
This right here. Is one of the most beautiful illustrations of God’s love for his children. In this parable Jesus gives the story of a shepherd who has a hundred sheep and one of them is lost. Scripture tells us doth he not leave the ninety nine. In search of the one. One of the things that hit me about this parable is the fact that the shepherd noticed that one of his sheep was unaccounted for. I think about the church today. How many pastors or should I say shepherds of the house of God. Will notice if one of their members have gone astray (backsliden). This is what this parable is truly about. Someone who was once in the fold but has back slide back into the world. Do we as the church notice when one of our members have gone astray. We as the church we have it backwards. We stay with the ninety nine and we forget about the one. What I love about this parable however, is the fact that Jesus points out the man leaves the ninety nine to search out the one. Does this mean that he neglected the rest in order to search for that one lost sheep? No, he knew that the others were safe and accounted for, but that one who was out there who lost, alone and unprotected. Especially, without the shepherds guidance and protection. The job of the man or the shepherd. Is not just for the accountability of its sheep. He also guides the sheep. As well as protects his sheep. Left alone the sheep is more prone to the attacks of its enemy. The sheep is known for being docile and defenseless animals. Which makes them an easy target for prey. As a sheep is defenseless against prey such as wolves. So are we when we stray out from under the protection of God’s grace. We become defenseless to the attacks of the enemy. Sometimes, we don’t realize just how protected we are. Until we leave the presence of God. Here is the good news for those of you. Who has gone astray. The first is that God notices. He is not like man (humans) who does not notice that one has gone astray. The second thing is that he will search for you. He searches for you because you matter to him. You matter so much to him that in verse 13 scripture tells us that and if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. The bible tells us that he rejoices over you. More so than those who has not gone astray. This should be encouraging because we tend to be filled with shame and guilt. When we have strayed. We think that God is disappointed in us, but he rejoices in us and over us. I believe that it is said best in the parable of the prodigal son. For this brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:32 KJV). We don’t need to be ashamed because our heavenly Father celebrates us being found!
Jesus leaving the ninety nine in search of the one. May not mean a lot to some people, but I tell you it hits different. When you are that one. This parable shows us God’s unconditional love for us that he will search for us in the midst of our being lost. In the book of Ezekiel 34:16 it tells us that I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and I will bind up that which was broken, and strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment. The word tells us that not only will seek us when we are lost, but that he will bind that which was broken. One of the definitions of bind means to wrap around with something so as to enclose or cover. So that simply means that God will bind us or cover that which was broken in our lives. God in his wisdom knows that when we have gone astray. That there will be broken fragmented pieces in our lives, but his word says that I will cover it. He also promises to strengthen the sick and this is all after he seeks out his lost sheep. This shows me and I hope that it shows you. That we can never stray so far that God’s love for us won’t seek us out. That he understands that in the straying that we become broken but his love for us covers that brokenness. That he gives strength to our sicknesses. We serve a God who not only seeks the lost, but he heals as well. I pray that this has blessed you and that it has encouraged you in your walk with the Lord. I implore you that if you know of someone who has gone astray. Reach out to them. Remind them of God’s love for them. Cover them in prayer. Let us take on the mind of Christ.