The Search for a Lost Sheep
In the parable of the lost sheep, the Good Father is the shepherd who searches for the one that has gone astray—but not before He made sure the ninety and nine were securely tucked away in the sheepfold. Parables are word pictures, often taken from actual happenings, which provide a moral and/or spiritual lesson. It is a memorable means to teach a truth, making it more palatable to wicked men and women and more understandable to those with little skill for reading or writing.
The Good Shepherd didn’t abandon the lost sheep; He went in search of the one. The sheep didn’t know it was lost; it was simply enjoying the richness of grass found perhaps near the edge of a precipice. It is reminiscent of a painting by Alfred Soord, a British artist whose most noted work pertains to this parable. It depicts a shepherd clinging to the edge of a cliff while reaching downward to snatch a sheep back from a disastrous fall. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11 NKJV). The sheep was not seeking the shepherd; the diametric opposite was true. The shepherd had gone out into the night to seek and save the wanderer. It is not necessary that you and I mount a comprehensive search for the shepherd.
He was in the midst of the Red Sea with Moses, atop Mount Moriah with Abraham, in the stone that David hurled at Goliath. God was in the pit with Joseph, in the lions’ den with Daniel, and in the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew children. He was in the garden with Jesus and in the dungeon with Paul. In Psalm 139:1–7 (NLT), David penned these words regarding the omnipresence of the Good Father:
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!”
The sheep has no awareness of the pitfalls, precipices, ravines, and rivers that lie before it. Its focus is only on sating its appetite. The shepherd is intent on only one task: finding the lost sheep. The sheep has no part in its salvation—that role is reserved solely for the shepherd. He is the one who is diligently searching for the sheep.
In His search for us, our precious Lord was betrayed, beaten, bruised, battered, and then put to death. We are captured by the horror of the depths to which He had to go; and yet, the tomb was not the end of the story. Three days later, He arose!