June 5

Text: Matthew 18:12-14

 "What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?  And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” (NASB)

If we picked animals to represent us, we would NOT pick sheep.  Sheep long have been known for their stupidity, their dependence on humans, and their defenselessness.  They even had to be guided to food and water!  If they were attacked, their panic made them a threat to their own well-being.  We would prefer to be known for intelligence, or independence, or fierceness!

First: If the sheep was lost, it was the sheep’s fault.  It was oblivious and wandered off.  Or it stubbornly placed itself in danger.  Or it was uncontrollable and did not need protection.

Second: When a sheep is lost, it does not help the searcher/rescuer find it.  Its only defense when trapped is to stay motionless and silent.  Unfortunately, the lost sheep will behave this way with friend or foe!  If it is found, the searcher must do all the work of FINDING it.  No wonder most lost sheep die!

Third: The shepherd looked for the lost sheep.  He did not say, “I have 99 left.  I am better off without that difficult sheep!  Stupid ole sheep—it deserves whatever happens to it!  It is not my fault it is lost!”

Fourth: Despite unfavorable odds and inconvenience, the shepherd searched.  Can you imagine being in an unfenced wilderness searching for a sheep that would not help you?  “It could be anywhere!”

Fifth: The shepherd found it alive!  When he returned to his friends, he did not say, “You would not believe my horrible day!  Listen to all I needlessly endured!”  Instead, he rejoiced.  He was so excited that he was overwhelmed with joy!

Does that give you any insight into the joy God has in the salvation of the most difficult person who trusts Jesus?  God wants no one to be lost.  If a person is lost, it is in spite of God, not because of God.

Suggestion for reflection: How difficult are you to save?  (Read 1 Peter 3:8-13.)

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