Luke 15: 3-5a Then Jesus told them this parable: “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? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” (NIV)
At the height of our young daughter’s pandemic loneliness, we decided to ride the wave of pandemic dog adoptions. We received a placement last Wednesday, but because, well, Guatemala, the dog got stuck in traffic and didn’t arrive home until evening. When it arrived, it was so afraid, it bolted from the Doggy Uber and RAN. Without thinking, so did I. I chased her through Vista Hermosa, and, assisted by said Doggy Uber and a really fast stranger, we caught her.
I arrived home, winded, and said to Joel, “I think my devotion this week will be about the parable of the lost sheep.” Now, in no way am I comparing myself to the shepherd in this passage. My dog hunt was motivated by fear and guilt -- I couldn’t let this dog I just met get run over or lost; whereas, the shepherd’s sheep hunt was motivated by love and a desire for all his sheep to be safe at home.
In the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15: 1-7), the shepherd willingly seeks out his one lost sheep and delights in its homecoming. Similarly, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, willingly and joyfully seeks out the lost in order to welcome them -- us -- home with a heavenly party. Regarding a different “lost” parable, the parable of the prodigal son, Henri Nouwen reminds us that the heavenly party does not negate the deep sorrow that God feels over having lost one of his children. Sorrow over separation inspires God’s mission: send my Son to find my sheep and bring them home.
At times, I find myself as part of the 99 -- wondering why we have to keep waiting for that lost sheep. It’s not hard to follow the shepherd! Keep your eyes up and keep walking! Other times, I find myself as one of the neighbors invited to the party, rejoicing that a friend or family member was found and welcomed home. Still other times, I am that one sheep. I’m lost, whether I know it or not, and Jesus willingly and joyfully seeks me, finds me, and welcomes me home.
Read Luke 15:1-7 this week, and, if time allows, the entire “lost progression” (the sheep, the coin, the son) in Luke 15. Ask yourself the following questions:
● At this point in my life, where am I in this story?
● When have I been that one lost sheep?
● What did it feel like to be willingly and joyfully found and welcomed home by Jesus?
● Do I genuinely rejoice when other lost sheep are found? Why or why not?
● How is Jesus seeking me today, this week, in the midst of a global pandemic?
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