I am reading a fascinating devotional book,
While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks:
Forty Daily Reflections on Biblical Leadership
Haddon Robinson, former President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary says in the Forward to the book, that Professor Laniak applies what he has learned to the tasks of being a shepherd in the church and “raises our job descriptions to a divine standard.” Yesterday, I was reading the 10th chapter, “Lost and Found”. The author, Dr. Timothy S. Laniak, spent years interviewing and living with Shepherds throughout many different countries including Israel, Jordan, India, England and others. In this particular story the shepherd is a woman.
“One day, to her immense distress, Mrs. Aref (a Bedouin in Jordan) lost track of one of her ewes. Because sheep regularly mingle with other flocks at common pastures during the day, she checked with her neighbors that night to see if the ewe had gone home with someone else. But none of them had seen the missing creature. She inquired among more distant neighbors over the next week, but no one had noticed a stray or found unidentified remains. Weeks turned into months without a sign of the missing ewe.
Then one day, two months later, a large flock came through the village led by a hired shepherd. As was still her habit, Mrs. Aref asked the young man if he had come across a lost sheep. As the words passed her lips, one of the ewes in the solid pack of passing sheep lifted her head, immediately recognizing the sound of her owner’s voice. Mrs. Aref screamed with delight and rushed through the startled mass to embrace her lost sheep. It didn’t take long before the whole village heard the commotion and shared in the reunion. Her flock was now complete again.”
Jesus tells a parable in Luke 15. Actually, some people say that he tells three parables. But I think they are wrong. Look closely at how the parable is introduced in the first three verses.
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them. 3 So he told them this parable:
He told them “this” parable, singular. Need more? Look at verse 8. “Or what woman . . .” and Jesus switches from sheep to coins. It is one parable in three movements. The first movement is about lost sheep. The second movement is about a lost coin. The third movement is about lost boys, sometimes called, the parable of the prodigal son. And, as is the case in all of Jesus’s parables, the parable (in three movements) has ONE point. It might have, like all of the parables a wide number of applications and implications but it has ONE main point. So what is the point of the parable in Luke 15? Go back to verse 2 and look at what prompted Jesus to tell this three-movement parable.
They didn’t understand why Jesus spent time with sinners.
So Jesus told them THIS parable. (vs. 3).
What was Jesus’s point?
Lost people matter to God.
Or, to come back full circle to the 10th chapter in the devotional book I mentioned above, and the words of Dr. Timothy S. Laniak.
“In God’s kingdom, he was teaching, we should always ‘count by ones.'”
Pastor, are you counting by ones?
Do you care about the lost sheep?
Or is it only the crowd that you are concerned with?
Are you so wrapped up in the needs of your church, and the machinery of your church, and the bleating goats of your church, and the finances of your church, that you have lost sight of the sheep that are waiting to be found?
Elders, Sunday School teachers, youth workers and all the rest of us:
Do you care about the lost, the wandering, the wayward, the prodigals, or is it only the crowd that gets your juices going?
Can I make an ironic exhortation to you, to all of us, myself included?
For the sake of the masses that Jesus came to save, let’s learn to count by ones. Let’s go out to find the lost sheep who will respond to THE Shepherd when His under-shepherds act and sound like Him. Let’s live passionately for and LIKE Jesus who cared about lost sheep.