The True Shepherd Will Die for One Sheep

   Written by on July 27, 2017 at 11:22 am

logo-hevener“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.” Matthew 18: 12, 13.  In this brief parable, Jesus is emphasizing the value of one soul being saved for eternity. In our modern society, the value of life is often denigrated. When we hear of a shooter or knife wielder randomly taking the life of another, sometimes we may tend to shrug our shoulders and say, “Too bad!”  Violence has become so common in our society that we become hardened to the taking of life, a miracle from God.  Perhaps the one time that we deeply detest nonsensical murders, is when it hits close to home.  In this parable, Jesus is giving supreme value to life.

Man and sheep have a number of similar characteristics.

First, both can be stubborn. The shepherd at times has to force the sheep to do those things that are for the best interest.

There’s a positive and a negative sense to this when applied to a Christian. We have two natures: fleshly and spiritual. One is to be suppressed and the other is to be developed. “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit.” (Galatians 5:17)

In Romans, Paul continues to discuss the fight between the spiritual and fleshly.  He writes: “I discover this principle, then: that when I want to do the right, only the wrong is within my reach. In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive that there is in my bodily members a different law, fighting against the law that my reason approves.” (Romans 7:21-23, NEB)

A sheep’s instinct is to flock together, a second similarity of man and sheep.

Except for just a few breeds such as those that live on the highest mountaintops, sheep like to be together. Most animals, if left free to roam, will scatter. But if sheep are left to themselves, they’ll stay together. They’re social. This is helpful because they lack many of the natural defenses other animals have, such as speed or the personal protection a porcupine has. The protection of the flock comes from staying close together. To flock means to be in company together, to be a group. It means togetherness as comrades, brethren, and associates.  Wolves can easily take down a lone sheep that has strayed from the flock.  Just so, a Christian who chooses to withdraw from his Christian brothers and sisters is more susceptible to temptation than one who stays with and relies on the flock for support. The Christian needs to assemble, congregate, meet, and gather.  The apostles address this matter: “Your hearts might be comforted, knit together in love.” (Colossians 2:2) “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another. Love as brethren.” (1 Peter 3:8) “Be of one mind. Live in peace (love all). And the God of love and peace shall be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)

The propensity of sheep is to follow other sheep. This can be a problem.  We are to follow only the “true” shepherd, Christ.  The following Biblical passages give excellent advice: “Grievous wolves shall enter in among you not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29)  Some look like sheep “but are false prophets” who, the Lord said, will come in among us dressed in sheep’s clothing. “But inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) We can learn from fellow sheep—we need their fellowship, protection, and support—but the last word must come from the Good Shepherd.

Therefore, with Christ guiding us, we need have no fear of losing eternal life.  He comforts us with this promise, “Fear not little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

In Psalm 23, David writes that “The Lord is my Shepherd….”  Is He yours? Or are you following false shepherds, against whom Jesus warns?

Our Shepherd is faithful to us! Are we faithful to him?  Until next week may God richly bless you and yours.

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