November 26, 2022

A Message To The 99 Good Sheep Jesus Left Behind. When The Shepherd Goes Out In Search Of One Sheep Who Got Lost, It’s Good News For All Sheep. Great Piece!

I added the pictures above to the message I shared with you below.

written by Michael Murray
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? — Luke 15:4
Throughout the Bible, God uses the metaphor of sheep to describe his people.

Should we be insulted by that?

Sheep are dim-witted, easily distracted, and prone to wander into dangerous areas.

Come on, God, is that really how you see me?!

Can’t I be as loyal as a dog? Or as fun as a dolphin?

The theologian Charles Spurgeon said this about sheep:
A sheep is of all creatures the most senseless. If we have lost a dog, it may find its way home again; possibly a horse might return to its master’s stable; but a sheep will wander on and on, in endless mazes lost.
When I read that description, I can’t be too offended by God’s choice of animal to describe me.

I have recently installed an app on my computer that locks me out of all social media websites for a set time. Why? So that I don’t get lost in “endless mazes.” If I take a break for five minutes to check out what’s happening on Facebook, I’m soon sucked down a rabbit hole. Two hours later, I’m watching YouTube clips from the 2007 TV movie Sybil. (Oddly specific because it’s true.)

Okay, God, I’m a sheep.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story about a lost sheep and the lengths its shepherd will go to find it. The sheep is in a fold with 99 others and wanders off on its own.

Later in the chapter, Jesus tells another story, this one about a son who gets lost. This young man defiantly asks his father for his inheritance and heads off for a life of wild living. He chooses to leave home.

But this sheep? He was just being his senseless self. He got lost.

We all get lost, but not all in the same way. Sometimes we know full well what we are doing. We turn from God as the younger son did and choose to go our own way.

But sometimes our lostness is more… sheepish. We get enticed by a shiny object and follow it. After some time, we look up from the grass and find ourselves in unfamiliar terrain. We look around, searching for a familiar face, but we see none.

When the younger brother came to his senses after facing a life in a pigpen, he knew the way home. When the sheep realized it was lost, there was no way it was getting home on its own.

Have you ever been a lost sheep?

The feeling of not realizing you’re lost until you’re really lost is scary.

Sometimes we make choices and don’t realize how destructive they are. Sheep follow other sheep. We are easily influenced by the people around us. I’m not saying we’re not responsible for the choices we make. But when we look up and realize we’re far from home, the last thing we need is judgment from the other 99 sheep.

A lost sheep doesn’t need to be scolded. It needs to be rescued.

And that’s what the shepherd in the story does. He leaves the 99 to find the lost sheep, and then joyfully carries it home on his shoulders. (Luke 15:5)

The tenderness the shepherd has for his senseless sheep is beautiful. He carries this weary, frightened sheep home. The sheep doesn’t have to work to get home. He doesn’t have to find the way. He just has to rest on the shepherd’s shoulders. He is carried home by grace.

But what if you’re one of the 99 sheep the shepherd left behind?

What if you’re one of the “good” sheep who didn’t stray from the fold? What if you have been faithfully following the voice of the shepherd?

In Jesus’ story, the shepherd leaves the other 99 sheep in the wilderness. That seems pretty harsh. The wilderness is a scary place for sheep to be left without a shepherd. How would you feel to get left behind while the shepherd goes after the one troublemaker?

I might be thinking, Wow. I’ve been a good sheep all my life, never leaving your side. And now you’re leaving me to go after a sheep who never followed any of your rules anyway? And to make matters worse, you seem joyful about having this sheep back home. You’ve never seemed this happy about me!

The older brother expressed a similar sentiment. When his younger brother was greeted at home with a party, he unleashed his anger on the father.
He answered his father, “Look, I’ve served you all these years, and I never disobeyed your instruction. Yet you’ve never given me as much as a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours returned, after gobbling up your estate on prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.” (Luke 15:29–30, CEB)
The rebel gets rewarded. The rule keeper gets overlooked as just another sheep in a sea of 99.

Good news for all sheep.

A few weeks ago, my friend made a comment about the lost sheep story that I’ve been pondering. He said when the shepherd goes out in search of the one sheep, it’s good news for all the sheep.

If the shepherd is willing to shrug his shoulders over the loss of one sheep, then none of the sheep can feel secure. If I get lost tomorrow, how will I know I’m worthy enough to be found? It becomes a competition among the sheep to become the shepherd’s favorite.

Think about it. Maybe I’m so in love with Jesus, and I can’t imagine why anyone would stray from him. Life in the fold is great, and I can’t muster compassion for anyone who’s strayed.

I see someone in a bad situation, and I start making up reasons for why they’ve gotten themselves into that mess. Well, it’s because they haven’t obeyed God as I have. They’re welcome back into the fold anytime, but they’d better clean up their act first.

But Jesus says no. Jesus says, They’re lost and afraid, and I love them right where they’re at. They don’t have the strength to make it home, so I need to rescue them.

When Jesus leaves behind the 99 to rescue one, he’s making a bold statement. He’s saying he knows each of his sheep intimately, and he loves them all. He knows the family wouldn’t be complete without the missing sheep.

The 99 other sheep should hoot and cheer (or do whatever sheep do to celebrate) when the shepherd leaves them to find the lost one. It means the shepherd is caring, the shepherd is loving, and we all matter to him.

So for any lost sheep out there, know you are loved. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve strayed or what mountain cliff you find yourself dangling from. Jesus is coming to rescue you and bring you home.

For those of us who [think we] have it all figured out, we’ll soon realize we don’t. One day we’ll look up from the grass and find ourselves in unfamiliar terrain. Fear will grip us. How did we stray so far from the shepherd? At that moment, we can feel secure. Jesus knows where we are, and he’s coming to rescue us.

And when we’re in the fold, grazing beside quiet streams, let’s cheer when Jesus goes on rescue missions. We have a job to do while he’s gone. We have preparations to make.

Soon we’ll see Jesus in the distance, carrying the missing sheep safely over his shoulders. Let’s make sure we have a party waiting for them!
I added the pictures above to the message I shared with you below.



Both Matthew 18 and Luke 15 record Jesus’ parable about a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in the fold to go in search of one that had wandered away. Jesus gave this illustration in response to the Pharisees who were incensed that Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). The religious leaders in Jesus’ day had structured their system to exalt the self-righteous and exclude anyone who did not live up to their often arbitrary standards (Matthew 23:28). They had added so many rules and regulations to God’s law that no one could keep them all, including the ones who drafted them. When Jesus came along, His methodology confused them. He seemed to be from God, yet He rebuked the outwardly righteous and welcomed the wicked. How could this man know God?

So Jesus told them a story, as He did many times in order to explain spiritual truths: “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:12–14). The people of Jesus’ day understood the relationship between shepherds and sheep, but the significance of a shepherd going in search of one lost sheep is sometimes lost on us. It seems strange that a shepherd would leave his flock to search for one missing sheep.

We might consider the shepherd leaving the 99 to find the 1 this way: a father and his five children are asleep in their home when the smoke detectors go off. The father awakens to find his house filled with smoke and the sound of flames and crackling timber coming nearer. Panicked, he races to his children’s bedrooms and begins to rouse them. Calling to some and carrying others, he stumbles down the stairs and out the front door. He deposits the sleepy children on the grass a safe distance away and then turns. Gasping for air, he squints through the smoke to count kids: “Tim, Sally, Angel, Jojo—where’s Lilly!” He is missing his youngest, three-year-old Lilly. Four children are safe, one is not. What will this father do?

God is a Father. He counts His kids. He rejoices that some are safely in Christ, prepared for eternity and nestled near His heart. But some are missing. Where’s Karen? Where’s Abdul? Where’s Jose? The Father sent Jesus on a rescue mission “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). God does not abandon the 99. They are already safely in His kingdom, attended by His angels, and guided by His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14; Hebrews 13:5). But His heart aches for those not yet in the fold.

So the Good Shepherd pursues the lost sheep, woos them, calls to them, and allows circumstances into their lives designed to make them look up. It is often in the bleakest of circumstances that we finally surrender our demands to have our own way. We finally submit to our Shepherd, who carries us back to the fold (Luke 15:5). In John 10, Jesus again refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd, saying, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (verses 16–17). Then in verses 27–29 He says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” The 99 are still important to Him, but He knows the flock is not complete without the lost sheep. And a good shepherd always goes after the lost sheep.

In Luke’s gospel, two other parables follow the one about the one lost sheep, and both of them reinforce Jesus’ main point, which is the value of individuals. The parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8–10) and the parable of the lost son, also known as the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32), continue the theme of God as a pursuer of lost people. We were all lost at one time, and the Lord came after us. If He had not taken the initiative, no one could be saved (John 6:44). So, when our Good Shepherd wants to pursue another lost lamb, the 99 who are in the fold can joyfully support the rescue.

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