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.
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.