28th August 2012

God Loves The Lost Sheep

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
Matthew 18:12-14 (NKJV)

This scripture is puzzling at first glance.  Why did God (or Christ) go in search of a sinner? Why did he value rogues like David, disobedient Jonah, cowardly Peter, and fanatical Saul? Shouldn’t he have cherished the ninety-nine sheep?

The answer is in Matthew 9:12. “When Jesus heard that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.’”  Those who obey God should not resent God’s love, mercy and forgiveness towards those guilty of terrible deeds, such as Hitler or even the drunk who kills a child on a zebra crossing.  Perhaps we could say that they need more care as their illness is more serious.  Rather, we should rejoice that a brother is saved from death.  As it says in the heading scripture, God does not want any to perish.

Although, in the parable, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go and seek the stray, he would not leave them unless it was safe.  God cherishes each of us and says he will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

None of us is guiltless. As it says in Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  And Romans 5:8 assures us that, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  

That is something to truly rejoice about!

Father, help us to understand that God loves everyone, and that Church is for sinners, as we all fall short of God’s glory, in different ways. Rather than judging, may we understand the limitless quality of mercy that God dispenses.

Study by Keith Le Flem

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