Why all the sheep questions? Well…
Jesus likens His children to sheep. He is our Shepherd and we are His flock. He is our leader and we are His followers. Sheep are good followers. And so are we, right?
Well, we are supposed to be anyway.
We don’t always walk the path our Shepherd has pointed us down, do we? Life gets in the way. Emotions get us all turned around and suddenly we find ourselves completely lost. We look around and everything familiar is missing. We are completely alone. Or so we think.
SGT Gilad Shalit, a soldier in the Israeli Army probably felt very alone as he was held in jail, for five long years, after being captured by Gaza militants in a border raid.
He was captured and held prisoner for no other reason than those who held him hated who he was and where he came from. I am sure many times he was scared, lonely and probably felt very much alone.
Much like a lost sheep would when separated from its flock.
You may have read about this story in the news lately. SGT Shalit has just been released from his captivity. His country, the country of Israel, made a trade in order to get him back. It is this trade that blew my mind.
The nation of Israel traded one thousand twenty seven prisoners for SGT Shalit. Did you see that? 1027 people for one.
Kind of like when Jesus leaves the 99 to go and find the one who is lost.
In the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus is explaining to the tax collectors, Pharisees and scribes how important each soul is to God. The Pharisees and scribes were complaining that Jesus was spending time in the company of “sinners” and that kind of behavior was simply not tolerated back in the day. Jesus turned those men and said, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15: 1-7)
What is Jesus saying to these men? He is reminding them that the goal in life for all of us who believe in Jesus as Lord is to find those lost souls and carry them home (to Jesus’ feet) and then rejoice with them when they become children of God. These “holy” men were thinking hanging out with the sinners was wrong. And yet Jesus was saying that those repented sinners were more of a cause for celebration in heaven than the holy men of God in the temple. Why?
Well, I think because we (and the Pharisees) tend to give more lip service to the things of God instead of heart service. We talk a great talk but we don’t walk out the Great Commission like we should. God has commanded us to go and bring the lost to Him…like a shepherd searching for the one lost sheep who can’t find its way home.
Israel makes a promise to their soldiers and their families. You protect us and no matter what, we bring you home. So, while to me and maybe to you and the rest of the world, trading 1027 prisoners for one may seem lopsided and ridiculous, Israel does it anyway. Why? Because it is more important to them to bring home the lost one, than to stand and proclaim how great they are because most of their soldiers made it home.
I do not think it is a coincidence that it is Israel, God’s chosen people, who live out the Parable of the Lost Sheep so well. We should take note…the one who strays (or is captured by the world) is more important to find than hanging out with even the most Godly of people every day.
It is what Jesus did for us. He left His THRONE in heaven to come to earth and bleed and die on a cross for YOU. And if it was only for you, He would have still done it. He left the holy to find the lost.
Are you giving God lip service, or are you searching for the one who may need you to bring them to the foot of the cross? Let’s go find those lost sheep!