One of my favorite parables has long been The Parable of the Lost Sheep. Sheep have an instinctive tendency to wander. I can personally relate… barely hanging on for dear life on the edge of a rugged cliff. During Holy Week, I am especially reminded how Jesus is on a search-and-rescue mission.
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
First, the parable strikes at the heart of our value system and confronts us with the magnitude of God’s infinite mercy, forgiveness and love. It’s a simple point. Yet, looking closer, the parable hits home in unexpected ways. Specifically, what does this parable say about the nature of God; what does it say about us; and what does it say about our relationship to each other?
With God nothing is lost. That’s the first point, and the second is this: With God, we live in community with each other, so to talk about being lost is really to talk about being separated from each other. This is the community of the church. In other words, the sheep was lost because it was part of the flock to begin with. So often we give up too easily. When others fall through the cracks, we’re quick to write them off. Not in the kingdom of God. Isn’t this so encouraging? One is worth more than ninety-nine!
The lost sheep is loved because of the incredible grace of God that comes down to call each of us sons and daughters. None of us deserve it. We simply have it. We are valuable to Him and He will seek far and wide to bring us back home to him. When the one who was lost returns, the Good Shepherd receives him back with joy, and he does not rejoice alone!
Our heavenly Father loves you the same way. He wants you, no matter what you do or how you fall. This is the love He spoke over us when He sent His Son. Holy Week is a reminder where sacrifice, mercy and grace are poured out on the cross. Because of this love, we have become children of God. He asks you to give love as freely as you have received it… not just to those who deserve it but to everyone He puts in front of you.
Because of the Cross, I am being transformed from the inside out. I chose to be at peace, no matter what is going on. I know that my greatest challenge will strengthen me. I know how to stand up to the dark forces. I know I cannot take the easy way out. I must not allow grief to take over my life. My heart always knows what I need to know. Every concern I have is a concern of God’s. I am learning to swim through painful experiences.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4
There is a place called home where we are always welcome. I was once lost, now I am found. Thank you, Jesus.
In Faith, Lynne Parr