Posts Tagged ‘Sheep’

 

Lost but Found

© Image Created by Ross Cochrane – Lost but Found (Seek and you will find the words Lost and Found)

Matthew 18:11-14 – DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

Matthew 18:12-14 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

The owner/shepherd still has the ninety-nine. Does it really matter to lose one sheep? I guess it matters to the lost sheep. Then again sometimes a lost sheep won’t even realise it is lost until it is too late. Sheep can be stupid at times.

But who are those who wander away in this parable? Isaiah 53:6 (NIV) answers that question by saying “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…”  What was I saying about being stupid?

In the context of Matthew 18, the Lost Sheep is someone who has become positive to the things of God and is a new follower of Christ. Jesus says not to look down on them or despise them, because they are loved by God. They are part of His flock. They wandered away but now they are found.

It’s not so unusual to think of God as an Owner/Shepherd. The profile fits Him well.

  1. HE IS AWARE OF THOSE WHO ARE LOST

Most owner/shepherds in the time when this was written in Israel knew their sheep by name, so they were aware of which one was missing. They knew each characteristic of their sheep. The sheep also knew the voice of the Shepherd and followed.

  1. HE CARES FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOST

This is a parable. The key theme – God cares for, knows and seeks for His lost sheep. He seeks every person individually, patiently and relentlessly.

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord … does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

God loves the world (John 3:16) but He also loves us individually. One sheep in the flock. One face in the crowd. God wants to have a relationship with each one of us. He knows each sheep and seeks each sheep that strays.

The Shepherd doesn’t wait for us to be ready to come home. He makes the first move. 1 John 4:19 (KJV) says, “We love Him, because He first loved us.”   

  1. HE TRACKS AND PROTECTS LOST SHEEP

In Israel when this parable was told, sheep could easily get lost in the rugged terrain and shepherds became experts at tracking lost sheep, protecting them from wild animals such as wolves or lions, and caring for the wounded wanderers. Each sheep was important.

We were all designed to be part of God’s flock, and having wandered off, it is good to know that there is the potential to be found by Him.

Being positive to the message of Christ leaves tracks for God to follow, but if you listen, you will hear the voice of the Shepherd.

In John 10:27-30 (NLT) Jesus says, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, for my Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

  1. HE DOES NOT PUNISH THOSE WHO ARE FOUND

This shows the difference between Jesus and the spiritual leaders of Israel. The Scribes and Pharisees didn’t care for their people. If someone wandered away spiritually or morally, they were condemned, punished or expelled, rather than brought back into the fold and cared for.

If God’s lost sheep are found, there are no beatings. No punishments. He seeks us out and does everything to bring us back to the fold.

John 3:16 (NLT) says “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” Being lost is a punishment in itself until we are saved.

  1. HE SAVES AND CELEBRATES THOSE WHO ARE FOUND

Matthew 18:14 ends by emphasizing being found. It is not God’s will that anyone be lost but that all who have become positive to God are saved from certain destruction. Being lost carries with it implications of being injured, wounded or of certain disaster if they were not saved, and so it is used to describe death and hell or eternity without God. God cares. Christ saves, and all of heaven celebrates when those who were lost are now found (Luke 15:10).

If there are ninety-nine who are saved, does it really matter that one is lost? It matters to the sheep and fortunately also to the Shepherd. He seeks you and calls your name.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 7:6 – “JESUS IS SO INSULTING?”

Pig-Dog

Why does the Bible appear to be so JUDGMENTAL, INSULTING and ANTAGONISTIC in it’s imagery at times. Even Jesus calls people dogs and hogs. How can He be so INSULTING? Although this association with being part of the animal kingdom may appeal to the Evolutionists, not everyone likes the idea of being called a WILD DOG, FERAL PIG, GOAT or even a SHEEP.

GOLIATH said to David “Am I a DOG that you come at me with a stick?” (1 Samuel 17:43 NLT). He is obviously insulted by having David as an opponent. Mephibosheth, who has a physical disability, speaks of himself as a DEAD DOG  which doesn’t say much about his self-esteem (2 Samuel 9:8). Shimei, who threw stones at King David is also called a DEAD DOG by Abishai (2 Samuel 16:9) as a term of derision and contempt (with the obvious emphasis on desiring him to be dead). ENEMIES of Israel are called DOGS (Psalm 59:6). Deuteronomy 23:18 calls HOMOSEXUALS (male prostitutes) DOGS. Revelation 22:15 (NLT) includes a host of dogs. It says “Outside the city are the DOGS—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.” FOOLS (those who don’t acknowledge God or obey Him) are called DOGS in Proverbs 26:11.

Those who go HALF-WAY in believing are called DOGS AND PIGS? 2 Peter 2:20-22 (NLT) says “And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”” If you want to insult someone it seems calling them a “DOG” or a “PIG” will do it every time!

Jesus calls a person who is ANTAGONISTIC towards God’s Truth a DOG AND A PIG. Jesus says in Matthew 7:6 (NIV) “Do not give DOGS what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to PIGS. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Someone said followers of Christ “… are not to be judges, but, also, they are not to be fools.” Proverbs 9:8 (NLT) says “So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you.” Sunshine can hard-bake the earth or melt ice. Discernment seeks an open, receptive heart and not a cynical, antagonistic one.

Jesus refers to a Samaritan woman as a GENTILE “DOG”. Jews in this ancient time did not eat pigs and they despised dogs. He says in Matthew 15:24-26 (NLT) ““I was sent only to help GOD’S LOST SHEEP—THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.” But she came and worshiped Him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the DOGS”” He eventually heals her daughter but today He would be HOUNDED by the press for such a comment and rejected by a large section of the population. He did not apologise.

Is He saying that Christianity is exclusively for Jews? Back in Matthew 10:5 “Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but ONLY TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL—GOD’S LOST SHEEP.” There it is again. ONLY ISRAEL! Israelis are likened to SHEEP. Gentiles were seen as PIGS and DOGS! You would think that JESUS IS A RACIST – only concerned for His own nation. No Gentiles. No Samaritans. No Romans. ONLY JEWS.

But then, just when you think you have Jesus pegged as a RACIST, He says in Acts 1:8 (NLT) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me EVERYWHERE—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ENDS OF THE EARTH.” That’s about as inclusive as you can get. John 3:16 certainly isn’t racist – “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) echoes with all-inclusiveness when it speaks about faith in Christ – “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are His heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”

So what’s with the seemingly “RACIST” comments as opposed to the inclusive ones? Gentiles change their PIG-DOG status for SHEEP enfolded in God’s flock, when we believe and receive what Christ has done for us when He died on the Cross for our sins. When I was an ENEMY (opposed) to God’s purposes (a DOG and a PIG), He didn’t give up on me.

The invitation is to be a friend not an enemy of God and His purposes, to be enfolded into His flock not savaging them. For followers of Christ it is to share your faith intentionally with those who will receive it and show some discernment with those who don’t.

Pastor Ross

PS If this post has helped you apply the lifechanging truths of the Bible, you are invited to subscribe by clicking the follow button, to make comments and to share these thoughts with your friends. It would be a privilege to share these conversations with people like you and others all around the world.