Confession: I’m a bit of an Instagram nut. I love the glimpses into the lives that other people live…in fact, as a writer, it fascinates me. I was recently deeply blessed by a fellow writer’s Instagram post about leaning on God during tough times. But what really caught my eye about her post wasn’t the content of the message so much as the picture that went along with it—a shot of her computer, with a sticker in the upper corner that caught my eye:
Leave the 99.
The 99 and the One
This sticker is a reference to the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15, where Jesus tells the religious leaders about how a man, having 100 sheep, would leave the 99 to find the one who was lost. So it is in heaven when one lost soul returns.
After seeing the sticker on that writer’s Instagram, though, what really stuck with me was one particular portion of that parable: “When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’”
Lost Sheep and the Good Shepherd
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the visual of this passage. A lost, wandering, tired sheep, carried on the shepherd’s shoulders back to the flock. And the shepherd doesn’t hide that sheep in the back of the flock, embarrassed by its foolish wanderings. Instead, he gathers everyone close to him to rejoice over that sheep coming home. It’s the redemption that’s celebrated. It’s never mentioned that the shepherd grumbles and curses the sheep as he climbs the hillsides in search of it.
I think that our Good Shepherd feels the same way about us. Even the most dedicated Jesus-follower is capable, and often guilty, of straying into sin. We may become lazy with our calling and set aside the things of God for the temptations of the world. Yet, even when we are lost, Jesus relentlessly pursues us as individuals. When the weariness and consequences of our wandering is finally too much for us, and we run to him in earnest repentance of our sin, he carries us on his shoulders back to the flock.
Your Shepherd would leave the 99 to rescue you. He rejoices over your homecoming whenever you wander. How precious that love is…and how precious you are, to him!