by Rob Campbell
No one tells a story like Jesus. The designation of â€œmaster storytellerâ€ falls short of his creativity, expertise, and connectivity. Frequently in the gospels, Jesus speaks of the fine art of shepherding. This was an intricate part of his environment for he was continually around sheep and shepherds. Sheep were dependent on a shepherd to find pasture for them. The task of shepherding entailed finding water, shelter, medication; lending aid in the birthing process; and providing for wounded and weary sheep. Further, Jesus understood the Jewish mind which believed Israel was the flock of God. God was their shepherd and Israel was his flock. In Luke 15:1-7, Jesus tells a story couched in this timeless relationship. Before I progress, do you remember who is surrounding Jesus when he shares this story? Yes, the tax collectors and â€œsinnersâ€ were huddled around him. This infuriated the Pharisees and teachers of the law and they began casting judgment against Jesus for his association with such a desperate lot.
Jesus states, â€œSuppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?â€ Notice the condition of a certain member of this flock. This lamb was â€œlost.â€ Maybe this lamb had moved from one tuft of grass to another and spontaneously worked her little body through a hole in the rock fence. As the shepherd began counting his sheep, he discovered the reality of his flockâ€“ one was lost.
He would immediately survey the fence striving to find that little hole that enticed the lamb to wander from the flock. The shepherd would â€œgo afterâ€ this lost lamb and would not rest â€œuntil he findsâ€ her. Jesus adds more punch to this story as he proclaims, â€œAnd when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.â€ Allow your mind to embrace this picture. The shepherd finds this little lamb. A broad smile fills his unshaven face. He stoops to pick up this little lamb and notices she is injured. The burly shepherd anoints the cuts and bruises with the gentleness of a mother. Slowly, the lamb is hoisted upon the shepherdâ€™s shoulders and he relaxes on the strong muscles of the shepherdâ€™s back.
This story is a beautiful picture of Godâ€™s love for you and me. In our wayward tendencies (and in our lostness), Godâ€™s searching love (â€œgo afterâ€) meshed with the persistence of his grace (â€œuntil he findsâ€) is desperately concerned for every single individual especially those outside the safety and protection of the flock. When any one lamb returns home, there is great rejoicing which illustrates Godâ€™s response to this recovery mission. God is filled with joy when he finds you!