It’s wonderful we have a God who searches for us
In Luke 15:1-7 there is the parable of the lost sheep.
A shepherd has 100 sheep, and as he’s out there in the wilderness, he counts the sheep and finds one missing .
He leaves the other 99 out there and goes out looking for the one that was lost out there in the rocks and crevices where it could have been lost.
You might wonder about his leaving the other 99 out there in the wilderness as he went looking for the one. But a herd this size would probably have had more than one shepherd, so leaving them out there with another shepherd is not necessarily careless.
So, this shepherd goes on his search, and he finds the lost sheep. A lost sheep when it realizes it is lost will essentially just cower where it is, quivering with fright, and even when it is found, would not just join the shepherd and follow him. So it makes sense that the parable has the shepherd picking up the sheep and laying it on his shoulders – note the striking image of the burden of a large sheep draped around the shoulders which is an image that can also be strangely similar to that of a man on the cross.
And there is joy, the shepherd rejoices as he lays it on his shoulder, there is joy in the restoration of this lost sheep He goes back to the village to celebrate with his friends and neighbors. Jesus ends the story with an analogy to the community in heaven who rejoice together over the one lost sinner who repents and not over the 99 others who are righteous.
Wow, when did that lost sheep repent?
It was only out there after getting itself lost and was shivering in fright. It was the shepherd that did the work of seeking and finding the sheep and bringing it home. Jesus is equating being found with repentance. It seems to be God who is doing the work even in our repentance.
It is so wonderful that we sinners do have a God who is out there searching for us, a God who rejoices when we are found, who rejoices as we are placed on God’s shoulder as we are carried to that great celebration in the village.
This is a celebration we join in every time we join in the thanksgiving sacrament of Communion, the celebration of the Last Supper, where we as sinners have table fellowship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.
REV. DALE BROWN is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian churches. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.