...than all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him...
I found these words disturbing to me this morning, though disturbing may not be the correct word. But a veil of sadness fell as I realized we donít see Ďsinnersí and Ďtax collectorsí drawn today. I cannot help but ask myself WHY? How is it that we keep the magnetism of Jesus covered today? How have we hidden His heart from the multitudes passing by each day? Because the multitudes are still there. Man hasnít changed. Nor his need.
Might it be that we donít acknowledge the flock, that we fail to have a love for the sheep? Could Jesus even speak the parable of the Lost Sheep to our hearts today and expect us to care or respond?
How greatly we have changed in relating to others in todayís world. Where there use to be a sense of greater community of looking out for and caring about one another, a spirit of isolation, or maybe itís crippling self-centeredness seems to have hardened todayís hearts.
I donít know that we would go after the missing one, for Iím not too sure we even really care about the ninety-nine. Especially when we realize the ninety-nine arenít limited to the Ďbelievingí community, but to the sheep Ďof all Godís creationí.
Weíve become a people adverse to carrying burdens, but very adept at palming them off. Iím not talking about our cares that weíre to cast upon the Lord. I mean the burden of loving others that Jesus refers to here.
The Pharisees and scribes to whom Jesus spoke certainly wouldnít have understood, for the burden-handling they practiced involved laying burdens upon the flock...certainly not carrying burdens of the flock upon themselves.
Yet thatís exactly what Jesus advocated. Iíd never caught it before, nor the joy it would bring. But Jesus knew. He understood. It was the very work He came to do, and it drew the flock. As true love always does.
Iíve recognized the willingness, the sacrifice, the work of seeking out the lost sheep before. But Iím grieved to admit thatís where I left it. Now, looking closely at Jesusí words, I realize the most important picture He was painting Iíd carelessly passed right by.
And when he found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing!
A true shepherd understands the significance of shoulders. Theyíre where burdens are borne. Not their own Ďburdensí but the burdens of picked-up love. That place where eyes have seen a need, and love has compelled them not to pass by, but to pick it up and lay it upon their own shoulders, and rejoice in the privilege of carrying a lost and weakened sheep back.
Yes, Jesus is the Great Shepherd. But caring for the flock He so loves Heís entrusted to our hearts, our hands, our shoulders. On His behalf, arenít we to seek out the lost, the confused, the hurting. As His body, arenít we to be stooping down, as He stooped down, into the brambles and the mire? Arenít we to be picking up and laying across our shoulders, shoulders which He strengthened, shoulders born to carry a cross, those whom His heart so loves?
I donít see it. Not in my own life. Not, if Iím painfully honest, in those who fill the pews each Sunday. No, I donít see it. Nor, I fear, do the multitudes, for they keep passing by. Where have we put the Jesus that draws Ďsinnersí and Ďtax-collectorsí unto Himself?
Dearest Jesus, my own Good Shepherd, You who carries me so faithfully upon Your shoulders of love, mold in me Your shepherdís heart. Create in me a love that looks beyond myself ... a love that looks like You. Lord, forgive me if my hardened heart has draped about Your shoulders the Pharisaical cloak of a burden-maker, blinding the sheep to Your love that seeks them out. Lead me to Your lambs that need lifted, that need carried, and let me rejoice as I lift them up in Your name and carry them home.
The world needs not our silence, nor wants our apathy. Itís Jesus that they yearn for, to shine through you and me. So shout the name of Yahweh. Arise from sheltered pews. Lift high the royal banner
Proclaiming the Good News. - Where Have All the Amens Gone? (excerpt)
DeAnna, you have spoken what will stir the fires of both revival or revile. A praise God for your courage to rebuke the Church to return to its heritage of loving one another. I need to be the first in line.
If we claim to children of the King, shouldn't we bear a family resemblance? Most excellent article! Standing with you - Nancy
You know, it really looks like the Lord is causing all our hearts to lean hard in the same direction... to be "the light of the world" that He called us to be and give a loving Savior to a hurting world. We really, really must pray for more humility. We are so powerless to even be humble without His assistance. Lord, help us! Soften us! Forgive us! Heal us! Shine in us! Give us a heart for You and for Your people. Amen. Be blessed in Him, Sister. I am so, so glad that He is beyond merciful to us... sinners saved by grace.