The notes this week have been provided by Beth. The passage can be read here.
So yesterday we were talking about safety in numbers and today we’re talking about sheep getting lost. Apparently sheep stick together and follow the same philosophy as us in seeing a safety in numbers. So how does one get lost? According to my research, (yes, I really did do some research on sheep behaviours!) when sheep sense danger, they flee and sometimes get lost.
I love these parables and the best one is still to come! (The Parable of the Lost Son tomorrow) Yet again, Jesus is eating with tax collectors and sinners. I’m not surprised these social outcasts are drawn to him. Jesus didn’t spend his time on Earth seeking out the most powerful and influential people, he seems to spend most of his time with sinners, tax collectors and, at best, fishermen. The Pharisees, yet again, don’t approve and, yet again, Jesus doesn’t seem overly bothered by it. He then tells them three parables (the third, as I’ve mentioned, we will look at tomorrow), all pretty much making the same point. This is clearly a point he really wants them to understand.
God is described as being a shepherd throughout the bible (I’m sure lots of you are reciting Psalm 23 in your heads as you read this!) When Jesus talks about this lost sheep, it’s apparent that the sheep needs the shepherd and without him, they are lost. They have no purpose, no direction. People who have turned away from God and are living their lives separate from him are lost. They don’t know what their purpose is, they don’t know why they’re here and, perhaps most dangerously, they don’t know how much they are loved and valued. One of the primary jobs of a shepherd is to look after the sheep and, without the shepherd, the sheep are in danger.
As I’ve already mentioned, apparently sheep generally stick together and feel safe when they are with the flock and only flee when they see danger. This makes me consider people who have moved away from God for whatever reason. I have a few friends who have distanced themselves from God. This often means that they distance themselves from their Christian friends too. There is a protection in being together as a flock and a danger from being away from it. Fellowship with other Christians is important. We should help to seek out lost sheep and pray for those who have fled.
The main point of this parable is really that, even though the shepherd has got ninety-nine other sheep, he still cares about the one that is lost. He hasn’t forgotten about it or lost count. The sheep isn’t inconsequential because the shepherd has many others. That shows us how much we are valued by God. You might feel like you’re not important. You might look at other Christians and think that they’re more important than you and maybe God loves them more. He doesn’t. Jesus is using this parable to tell the Pharisees that these ‘sinners’ are important, they are sheep, just like the Pharisees who think they are sinless. We all need God in the same way and he loves us all equally.
I also love the fact that the shepherd isn’t angry at the sheep for getting lost. He carries him on his shoulders. I think when we distance ourselves from God, it’s so easy to think that we’ve gone too far, we’ve done too much or he doesn’t love us anymore. Jesus carried the sheep on his shoulders and rejoices. That’s a picture of how he feels about repenting sinners.
I’ve already said too much (I did warn you at the start that I love these parables!) and so I’ll keep my comments on the lost coin brief! The parable is making the same point as the previous but it’s noteworthy that she loses silver, not metal. We are of worth to God. He’s sees us as having value. So much so that he died for us.
Thank you Lord that you sought us out, carried us on your shoulders and rejoiced over us! Help us Lord to remember how much you love and value us. Help us to find our value in you and nothing else. Lord help us to support the rest of the flock through prayer and fellowship