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One in a Hundred

January 12, 2021

“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” Luke 15:4

“Which one of you?” I’m never quite sure how to answer Jesus’ question. Would I go and look for the one sheep gone astray? On the one hand, I hate losing things. I’ve spent plenty of time looking for lost LEGO pieces scattered throughout the basement. If a book is missing from my shelves, the space created will slowly drive me bananas until the book has been replaced. And I spend five minutes every day looking for my keys (which is different, of course, in that my set of keys is one of one, not one of one hundred). Maybe I would go look for that sheep.

Bu then there’s that word: Wilderness. The sheep isn’t lost in the couch cushions. It’s in the wilderness, where one will be stalked by predators and privation. Thinking about the prospect of going in there, I might remind myself that 99% is good for an A+. Losing a sheep now and again is to be expected, after all. And who, by the way, is going to watch the ninety-nine while I go on this mission of madness?

Maybe Jesus’ point is not that we would go but that we wouldn’t. I can’t speak with authority to the practices of first-century shepherds (would they go?), but it seems Jesus’ question is meant to convict and, even more, to show how he is not like us. We are willing to let things go, to leave the world as it is. 99 out of 100 is probably good enough for us. But it is not good enough for Jesus. Jesus is the One in whom the fullness of God is pleased to dwell. Jesus, by his very nature, is a completist. His love for his sheep is total. His love is particular but indiscriminate, and he won’t rest until he brings us all home.

Yesterday, standing at a fresh grave in the cold January air, I spoke words of Jesus, words about how his sheep know his voice, words of promise reminding us that nothing can snatch us out of his Father’s hands. Jesus has entered the wilderness of sin and death, and the wilderness did its thing. It killed him. He laid down his life to find us. Now, in his resurrection, we can never be lost again. Not even in death.

I’ve felt a little lost this past week. These are wilderness times. But Jesus has his eyes on us. He won’t lose us. Let us, in his name, look after one another.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Loving God, you sent your Son into our wilderness that we would find life through his death. Give us faith to follow and eyes to search for others. Be with us during these difficult, dangerous days. Work peace in our midst. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Christus als guter Hirte (Christ the Good Shepherd), Lucas Cranach the Younger, c. 1540 (public domain).

From → COVID-19

One Comment
  1. Robert Jandeska permalink

    In the picture, Christ the Good Shepard, look at the face of the lamb. The lamb is sort of smiling and happy to be with The Shepard. Shouldn’t we too be that way.

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