The Ninety and Nine
Matthew 18: 11-14
“The Son of Man came to save the lost. What do you think? If it would happen to some man who has one hundred sheep and one of them would go astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and then go seek the one that strayed? Then if he happens to find it, truly I say to you that he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine, those that have not strayed. Thus it is a desire before your Father, the One in the heavens, that not one of the least of these would be lost.” (One New Man Bible)
As the roll call was being done at our church’s annual meeting, I began thinking about my children who have walked away from church as well as other young people they grew up with who have done the same. The Lord illuminated these scriptures to me and applied them to my life.
The shepherd left 99 of his sheep to go after the one sheep that strayed away. (would you leave behind 99% of your assets to save 1%?) As with this stray one, many people have strayed away from our churches, our families, the values they were taught when young. They have fallen into the crevices left by the world and all it contains; tasting of what their elders forbid them when they were young.
As the shepherd seeks for his stray, so our Lord seeks for the lost, particularly our wayward children. He will seek until He finds them, whatever deep, dark crevasse of the enemy they have fallen into. Our children will return to the Lord just as the Good Shepherd returned the lost one to the fold. He will carry them gently; wash their wounds and pour in the oil and wine that restores their souls. By faith, those who have wandered away will surely be brought back into the fold. Then there will be great rejoicing!!!
The Lost Lamb
One spring day, my son Alex (who was 10 or 12) was helping our friendMel Zehr clean the camping areas at Happy Hollow Camp Grounds. Alex found a little toy lamb, lost and forlorn under a trailer. His soft heart could not leave it lying in the dirt, so he brought it home to see what I could do with it.
The poor toy was dirty and its head was almost separated from its body. Because my son saw it as something worth bringing home, I set to work mending and cleaning it. After putting the stuffing back in and stitching the neck back onto the body, I washed it and was amazed to see how clean the little lamb turned out. I found a very royal-looking purple ribbon and tied it in a bow around the neck I had mended.
Isn’t this a true picture of the lost lamb Jesus went after when He left the ninety nine behind? He took the time to find it, rescue and comfort it; all the time rejoicing that the lamb was returned to the fold. In the same way I cleaned and cared for the toy lamb and then rejoiced that it came out so clean, He tends to our wounds, cleans us whiter than snow, and then adopts us into God’s royal family. This little toy lamb has sat on a shelf in my bedroom for many years reminding me of the Lord’s goodness. It also reminds me of a young boy’s faith in the Lord as he was learning to trust Him.
Dear ones, I encourage you today to hold fast to these promises in faith, not trusting in what you see; no matter how far from the Lord your loved ones may be. The Father loves your wayward ones more than you ever could and does not want them to perish. Keep standing in the gap for your family, friends and loved ones.