Jonathan's Perspective  

Sep 13

'When 99% Is Not Good Enough!'

Jesus describes the difference between the hired hand and the Good Shepherd of the sheep this way: 'The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away.' (John 10:12)  The hired hand is willing to sacrifice one or more rather than risk his life.  You see, the hired hand is just putting in time; he is paid to do a job so that he has money for his 'real life.'  For the shepherd, on the other hand, his sheep are his life!  They are the shepherd's security, his wealth, his future, his status, his joy, his prized possessions.  He is willing to throw himself between the helpless sheep and the wolf.  He is willing to go on the long trek to find the lost, beleaguered sheep.  He will not rest until all are safe.  Jesus our Good Shepherd, wants us to all be safe. 

In another passage, Jesus puts the issue in terms of percentages to get his point across.  Most of us would feel pretty good about ourselves if we earned a 99% on a test--after all, that is an A+.  Jesus sees it rather differently.  'What do you think? If a man owns a 100 sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the 99 on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that 1 sheep than about the 99 that did not wander off. (Matt 18:12-13)  This does not diminish the joy over the 99 safe sheep.  Rather, it is a heightened sense of the preciousness of each sheep that the shepherd was afraid was irredeemably lost, wounded, or dead.  Seeing the nervous sheep calm down in the arms of the shepherd, be soothed by the tender application of balm, or be saved from near death brings relief and joy. 

I think we learn two important lessons from these passages about shepherds and sheep.  First, don't ever confuse a hired hand with the Good Shepherd.  There is only one Good Shepherd who has and will continue to pay the ultimate price for your rescue, healing, and wholeness.  Placing your faith in Christ alone, who is always faithful and present.  Second, we need to pray for Jesus' heart for lost sheep.  We should never grow content to play within the safe confines of our 'sheepfold', and not venture out to the dangerous places of life to rescue the lost and wounded.  Jesus cares deeply about the one lost sheep, yet we are surrounded by dozens of lost sheep daily in the normal course of our lives.  Take time to point these hurting sheep to the Good Shepherd.  To paraphrase a common saying: I am just one blessed sheep telling another sheep where to find the blessing.

Blessed to be a blessing,

Jonathan 

 

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