Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 18:11-20.
How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them
be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine which went not astray
Here Matthew records a version of the parable of the lost
sheep. The Lord Jesus often used parables in his teaching, on many different
In Luke 15, he told three consecutive parables about a lost
sheep, a lost coin, and then a lost (or Prodigal) son.
In John 10 he offered an extended teaching drawing on this
metaphor, declaring, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life
for the sheep” (v. 11).
Here in Matthew 18 is another distinct occasion where Christ draws
on this shepherd and sheep analogy.
first asks, “How think ye?” (v. 12). I love that question. Christ is often
asking things like this of us.
leads to the parable proper (v. 12b). Christ takes it as normal or reasonable
that if a shepherd has one hundred sheep and one of them wanders off into the
mountains, that the shepherd will leave the ninety-nine and seek the one sheep
that has gone astray.
want to suggest, however, that that is not necessarily normal. I am guessing
that most shepherds would have factored in the possibility that some of the
sheep in his flock would not make it. They might become sick or injured and
die. They might be taken by predators. They might be lost and never recovered. There
is also another factor here. If he leaves the ninety-nine to find the one, he
perhaps leaves the flock that is secure vulnerable to mischief. I am guessing
that an ordinary shepherd who had a 99% sheep retention rate throughout a
season would be satisfied with that rate.
not this shepherd. This is where we learn that this story is not about animal
husbandry. It is about evangelism. Here is a God who knows every single one of
his sheep. He can call each of them by name. The sheep here are the elect of
God. They are, as Paul will put it in Ephesians 1:4 “chosen in him before the
foundation of the world,” and he will not let a single one of them slip through
is described here is the relentless pursuit of the Savior of his elect sheep,
who were lost until he finds them and saves them.
call it the parable of the lost sheep, but, in truth, it might well be called the
parable of the Vigilant Shepherd.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle