“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘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? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 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 15:3-7
What do you picture when you think of a Shepherd? In Jesus’ day, those called to tend the sheep were usually teenage boys around the age of 14 or 15. Being made responsible for the flocks was kind of like a rite of passage for young men, who would be given a bunch of sheep, not only belonging to their own families, but also to others in their village. It was a big responsibility for those who were called, and in a way, their pride was on the line. Shepherds were earning their place as men in society by fighting off lions and bears and protecting helpless little lambs. So well did an overseer know his flock that he typically had a name for each sheep. Thus, when one of the animals in his charge went missing, he would call it out by name. Even if he had to search all night long, once he found his lamb, he would go running into town and tell everyone that the flock was complete again. Upon hearing this news, the people of his village would be just as happy as he was — it was a big deal!
Friend, Jesus loves lost lambs. He looked his accusers, the Pharisees, straight in the eye and told them with assurance that one sinful man or woman coming to repentance was cause for a celebration far greater than for the 99 who saw no need to humble their hearts. I urge you, therefore, to assume the same humility that the Savior did when He embraced sinners with radical grace. Just as He emptied Himself of His right to be God in order to relate to humans, may you surrender your “right to be right” in order to win the hearts and souls of those whose who are lost, even if their debauched lifestyle frightens you. Stop hiding behind rules and regulations, and start seeking the ones who have wandered away from the flock. You may be the only one who can bring them back! Isn’t that an incredible thought?
Thank you, Jesus, for seeking me when I was a lost lamb. I pray for a heart full of radical grace that loves others and welcomes them, regardless of how “messed up” they are.
Who are the “lost lambs” in your world? Is Jesus calling you to go after them?