Saturday 24th November
Have you ever been so excited about something that you can’t contain it and you feel like your going to burst?? As sad as it is sometimes I get that feeling at the anticipation and excitement of the new film ‘The Hobbit’. Yes, I know that’s sad but it got me thinking about something much more exciting than a film release.
In Luke 15 Jesus, surrounded not only by society’s rejects but also the Pharisees and Scribes, begins to explain God’s heart for mankind. His excitement is told through these three successive parables whereby Jesus explains His desire to see the lost found. Jesus writes these parables in response to criticism from the Pharisees and Scribes who thought themselves to holy to associate with ‘sinners’. Jesus’ heart for ‘sinners’ is clearly shown in this chapter as He Highlights His priority in not only ‘socialising’ with sinners but that through Him they might find a way back to the Father. In Luke 19:10 Jesus says that He came for the lost, that they might be found.
The first of these parables is found in today’s reading in verses 3-7. Jesus uses a common imagery of a shepherd and sheep. He tells a story of a shepherd whilst tending his flock, loosing a sheep that’s gone astray. Then comes his dilemma. Does he leave the ninety-nine to go after the one who’s lost or go home with the ninety-nine and forget about the one? The shepherd does the right thing and searches for the lost sheep. When he finds it he is filled with such great joy and throws a party with his friends. Jesus says that this is the same joy found in Heaven when a sinner turns back to God.
The shepherd in this story can be interpreted as God and the sheep as us. God’s joy comes not in the ninety-nine who have not strayed but in the one who is found and comes back to Him. That is not to say the ninety-nine are not of importance to Him but rather His excitement is found in His desire for those lost to be reconciled with the Father.
What a great picture of a kind and loving Father. This parable reminds me of an old comic book narrating different stories in the Bible. One of the stories is this parable and the illustration of it still stays in my mind of a kind, gentle and loving shepherd with the lost sheep on his shoulders. That image should stand as a representation to us that Gods desire for all of us, no matter how lost of far away we are, is to come back to Him.
But notice this parable unlike the prodigal son parable is the shepherd going out to seek the lost sheep. If you think that God has just left you, that you have gone too far from Him or that you are beyond being found, then think again because that is contrary to what this parable is teaching us. His desire is for you to be found and not only that; He is willing to meet you where you are. Just hold on to the shepherds’ rod and let Him pull you back!!