“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.”
Luke 15:4-5, NLT
These things will happen from time-to-time. Good shepherds keep a mental tally of every sheep in his flock. The absence of just one is the cause of intense concern. The parable rolls out and the man takes off, leaving 99% of the sheep. Now, over the years I always thought that was very foolish. You just can’t leave your flock “in the wilderness” (the NIV says, “open country.”)
If it was me, I wouldn’t play “blackjack” with my flock like this. I would of just cut my losses, and moved on. It would be a misfortune for sure, but why risk more? Could it be that this shepherd is a lousy one, and unable to handle his responsibilities? Leaving behind 99% to rescue a single sheep is honestly not really fluid thinking.
But yet it is a core thought of Jesus’: losing–searching–finding–rejoicing. Finding this sheep (which was probably in a “tight spot.”) The text tells us that the shepherd lifted it up, and carried on his shoulders. He does not drive the poor, weary sheep home. This is not the way the gentle Eastern shepherd does it.
He stoops down and lifts it up, and lays it on his own shoulder and carries it back. Some others will often use their staff, and beat the sheep out frustration. Perhaps that want to teach the wandering one a lesson. But that didn’t happen.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”
John 10:14-15, NLT
There is a desperate need today for insightful shepherds to work in God’s flock. People who watch and feed and protect. We must advance to this point–Jesus carried us, our burdens, illnesses, sins and perversity. He picked me up, and lifted me back into the flock. The heart of a shepherd cares for every single sheep, even one lost sheep…and maybe even especially the one lost sheep. Does the Church today reflect this parable? What do you think?