Our Great Shepherd
July 9, 2021
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray (Matthew 18:12-13).
The elders of Israel considered themselves the elite of the elite in terms of morality and religious fervor and devotion. They believed everyone else to be morally and religiously inferior because of their ignorance of Mosaic Law and their lack of social standing. Jesus did not possess such an attitude of superiority even though He was the Son of God. Instead, He was humble and compassionate toward the downtrodden, the morally corrupt, the outcasts, and the spiritually broken people of Israel.
Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus demonstrated the exact opposite attitude toward people than the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees. He came to minister to people, not to take advantage of them. He came to lift them up by giving them hope and comfort and care. He truly loved the sons and daughters of Abraham and came to save them from sin and judgment. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, encouraged the hopeless, and offered forgiveness to sinners. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them (Luke 9:56). The Parable of the Lost Sheep reveals the gracious, godly concern that Jesus had, and has, for all mankind.
The role of the shepherd had a rich heritage among the Jews. We don’t know that any of the 12 disciples had experience as a shepherd, but they were all aware of what a shepherd was and the attitude of the people toward them. They also knew the attitude of a shepherd toward sheep, so this parable was rich with meaning to them.
Shepherds were considered low class people. Yet they were men who cared much for the sheep. In this parable we do not know if the sheep belonged to the shepherd or if he was a hired man to take care of someone else’s sheep. Regardless, his attitude was the same. He was aware of each individual in the flock and knew when one went missing. When he realized one had wandered off and was in danger, he made sure the flock was secure then headed out to track down the missing individual. His love for the defenseless and vulnerable sheep prompted him to search every ravine, cave, and out-of-the-way place until the individual was found. The shepherd would fight off wolves, bear, lion, even thieves in order to rescue the sheep. He would tend to it if it was injured and comfort it if it was in distress.
Such is the love of Jesus for every lost soul today. It doesn’t matter a person’s spiritual, moral, economic, or religious status - He cares for us all.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your great love for us. Truly ‘no one ever cared for me like Jesus’. To You be all honor and glory and praise. Amen.”