Friday, August 21, 2015
Most people are familiar with the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the 15th chapter of the book of Luke but there is also a beautiful and compelling truth about the love of Christ for the lost in the very same chapter. Christ's most vociferous opponents during his earthly ministry, the scribes and Pharisees, were incensed at Him because of His mingling with the outcasts of society. Jesus was then, as He is now, the Friend of sinners. Jesus decried the erroneous stance of these wicked religious leaders with these words: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.(Luke 15:4-7) An eternal truth in these verses is that, even today, Jesus (The Good Shepherd) still goes out looking for His lost and straying sheep.
In one of the most beautiful depictions in song of this occurrence, the Spanish tune of Juan Romero, "Vision Pastoral/Las Cien Ovejas", he wrote this: (my general translation into English) "There were a hundred sheep in the flock, a hundred sheep that He (The Good Shepherd) lovingly watched over. But one evening one of them was missing and sadly, He wept. So He left the ninety nine in the sheepfold to go look for His lost sheep up in the mountain. He found it weeping and shivering with cold. So He tended to it's wounds, put it on His shoulders and brought it back home. But this same story keeps repeating itself. There are still sheep who are straying. They are wandering out in the world without God, without comfort, and without His Forgiveness."
Juan Romero's story in song is filled with truth, and even as you are reading this blog today there are many out in the world who are either completely lost or else are straying from God. Though many of them will deny that they are sad and lonely and missing out on the love, joy, and peace they once knew, that is their true condition. The lost sheep in the song would have died alone, cold, and afraid had not the Good Shepherd found her. On the other hand, when Jesus finds one of His lost sheep, all of God's children and the angels in Heaven rejoice. One sad sidelight, however, is that many who are lost and straying prefer to remain that way. The truth is that God knows where they are even if they think they are hidden from His view. Even so, He will not bring them back into the fold if they are unwilling. Anyone who strays from the Good Shepherd will be in serious danger until he or she decides to come back to Him. If you are a straying member of the flock, come back to the One who is waiting for you with outstretched arms.
Memory Verse for the week: (Philippians 4:7) "And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."