“Suppose you have 100 sheep…”
I love how this story starts! Jesus is hearing a lot of grumbling about what He has been doing…who He has been eating with, drinking with, etc. And so He tells a story! And inside of this story, like so many other times Jesus talks to us, He gives us so much more than the story!
“”Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Now to His audience, this really meant something…well…because it was likely most of them owned sheep or at least knew someone who did. They would know what was involved in this process.
I’m reminded of the modern day efforts that people go through when they lose a pet.
Recently a friend was getting ready for work, her dog got out and instead of hanging out and waiting nearby…he took off. Oh…he taunted them as well…showed himself just down the street and when they called his name…he looked right at them…and split!
Now what? Work doesn’t happen…she is going to take the time and look for her dog! She will invite friends out with her…the message goes out on social media…
Based on what I’ve seen in recent months, if the dog had not been found within a few hours, then the posters would have gone up all over town! The effort was tremendous, several people taking their time off of work to go and look. Amazing!
So Jesus starts His story with the sheep because everyone there would recognize the seriousness of this…but He doesn’t stop there because while he was starting with sheep, he was also talking about…well…us. The ‘lost’ and those in need.
“ And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
I admit, I was so relieved when my friend found her dog! I, too, celebrated…but I get something else that I think Jesus was trying to convey. Sometimes going after the “one” means some effort is involved. “Leaving the 99” gives such a deeper imagery and principle. Not going where everyone else has gone but having to go wherever the “sheep” went or, more accurately, “is” because it doesn’t really matter how many places the sheep went…went is past tense. They are not there anymore…where is that sheep now?
And while people may act like sheep a lot (I’ll save that for another blog some day!) there are some ideas we pull out of the story. We will need to put some effort into reaching out to others. And to share the Gospel with someone requires some form of relationship.
What does that look like? Well, I don’t want to sound churchy here at all…in fact, I think this video shares some of what it means to really love others who are different than we are…
And while this was created for a beer commercial, is there any reason this couldn’t have been a local church? A local youth group? A men’s group? A women’s group? The ideas and possibilities are endless when, with the help of the Spirit, we begin to ask the question…”Lord, what does it look like for me to help leave the 99 and go after the one?”
Everybody can do something.