Tell Me the Old, Old Story

It is interesting to note that at this point in Dr. Luke’s narrative we come to a series of stories that must have fascinated some listeners and confounded others:

  • The Parable of the Lost Sheep
  • The Parable of the Lost Coin
  • The Parable of the Lost Son
  • The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

All the while, Jesus is continuing to spin his own tale – moving toward his own destiny – and it falls to “those who have ears to hear” to respond.

The first parable, about those lost sheep, speaks of the most wonderful gospel truth in the simplest of ways – ways that even a common shepherd could understand.  You can almost see the people leaning in to listen carefully as the rabbi begins,

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep….”

Some, no doubt, would have loved to have a hundred sheep.   Then, he describes the dilemma,,

“…and loses one of them.”

Oh no, what now?

Jesus answers in a way they can all readily appreciate,

“Does he not go after it?”

Of course, Lord, that’s only common sense.  Sheep are valuable.

Then, the wonderful twist…

It turns out he isn’t talking about livestock after all.  He is talking about souls – valuable, beloved, souls – souls like them.

Suddenly, he has lifted them up – cherished them – promised that no matter how some might devalue them – God never will.

Pure Gospel.

Again, the story would have brought tears of joy to some.  To others – the self-righteous who were quick to cast out some as worthless – well, it would be seen as quite scandalous.

But there you have it.  Jesus makes it clear – “God so loves the world” – a truth he will soon prove by dying on a Roman cross.

As we move toward Golgotha, how wonderful it is to remember just how much God loves every one of his precious sheep – especially those who have, for now, lost their way.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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