Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)
TITLE: The Lost Sheep
By Charles Salmon
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A shepherd had a hundred sheep. One day a sheep wandered away from the flock and was lost. The shepherd counted his sheep over and over but could not avoid the conclusion one sheep was missing. He worried about losing the sheep. A considerable loss of income was involved. He was not a wealthy man and could scarcely afford to lose any of his flock.
He immediately gathered his sheep into a tight little group and redoubled his vigilance lest he lose another. He was alone in the open country with his flock and could not leave them to the mercy of predators. He never saw the wanderer again nor did he ever learn what became of it. But, the ninety-nine he guarded were worth much more than the single lost sheep. There was nothing he could do.
If you know the Bible, you know I’ve taken considerable liberty paraphrasing one of Jesus’ most popular parables. Here’s how He told it: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'” (Luke 15:4-6 NIV.)
With all due reverence, the story makes more sense my way. Aren’t ninety-nine sheep in the secure flock worth more than one out in the bush? It seems foolish to leave the ninety-nine “in the open country” to pursue a single stray. Oh, I know the usual explanation; he left them in the care of another shepherd or within a fence of thorny bushes. Jesus doesn’t even hint at such precautions.
I’m convinced many of Jesus’ parables are intended to show us God doesn’t do things the way we would. It makes more sense from a human standpoint to stay and guard the ninety-nine. But, let’s remember, Jesus isn’t just talking about sheep and shepherds. His point is made in verse 7: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
In His story of the lost sheep, Jesus tells us God loves you (and me) so much He will risk everything to save one lost sinner. Isn’t that just what He did when He sent His Son to earth? Think of it. If you (or I) were the only lost sinner on earth, Jesus would still have come to our rescue! Often love makes us do things which seem foolish.
Maybe that’s what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote First Corinthians 1:18-19: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
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