Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Lost Sheep...The One Percent

Have you ever read a passage in Scripture and had something jump out at you that you never noticed before? In 2008 I was preparing a lesson and was studying Luke 15 - the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Luke 15:4 says, “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?” (NLT)

For some reason I had always pictured the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine other sheep in the safety of a pen. I imagined him rounding up all the sheep. I imagined him making sure they were safe from all harm, making sure all of their needs were met, making sure they were fed and watered. And then, only after the ninety-nine other sheep were secure, he took out in search of the ONE lost sheep. I do not know where this mental picture came from because it is not even close to what we find in this parable.

This shepherd leaves the ninety-nine other sheep in the wilderness, in the open country (NIV) to go search for the one that is lost. It struck me as I was wrestling with this passage the shepherd’s decision defies logic. It does not make rational sense to leave ninety-nine percent of the animals left in your charge to go look for one percent. It seems you would be better off taking care of the ninety-nine sheep you have rather than abandoning them to search for one. This might make more sense rationally, but it is not the heart of a shepherd. The heart of a shepherd cares for every single sheep, even one lost sheep...and maybe even especially the one lost sheep. Does the Church today reflect this parable? What do you think?


1 comment:

  1. I think we may have a translation problem... I've actually heard entire sermons built around leaving the 99 in safety (as opposed to "open country/wilderness". Maybe you grew up hearing the same ones I did building that mental picture.

    Let's keep looking for the one.