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The Seeking Shepherd Parable The Seeking Shepherd Parable

The Seeking Shepherd Parable


What does it mean when we say, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1)? Phillip Keller offers an answer to this question in his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. “This thought alone should stir my spirit, quicken my own sense of awareness, and lend enormous dignity to myself as an individual. To think that God in Christ is deeply concerned about me as a particular person immediately gives great purpose and enormous meaning to my short sojourn upon this planet.”

Today’s parable conveys this message as well. It’s the first in a series of three stories Jesus told about finding lost things (a sheep, a coin, a son). All three stories show how much God values us and how much effort He puts forth “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Even more significantly, the story highlights the loving nature of the Shepherd Himself, Jesus. Our Good Shepherd loves each of us so much that He is willing to leave his 99 sheep (“in the open country,” but protected) and search for the one who was lost (vv. 3–4). Notice it’s not the sheep seeking the shepherd but the other way around. God’s love pursues us, as we see throughout the Bible. And when we’re found, there is great “rejoicing in heaven” (vv. 5–7). Joy is always greater when the need and forgiveness are greater as well (see Luke 7:41–43).

Two audiences were listening to this parable. One was “tax collectors and sinners,” lost sheep in need of a Savior (see Luke 5:31–32). The other was the Pharisees. They were also lost but refused to admit it. They pridefully complained about Jesus’ willingness to associate with the other group (vv. 1–2). In this story, Jesus sadly mocked them as “ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (v. 7). They did, of course, but their hearts were closed to Christ.

>> You may have sheep and shepherds as a part of your nativity set. If you have time today, read the Good Shepherd discourse in John 10:1–18 and reflect on the fact that God is your shepherd, a powerful image used throughout Scripture.

Pray with Us

Lord, please humble us as we remember that each of us was once a lost sheep. Move us to compassion for the sheep who are still lost and show us how we may join in your loving pursuit of them.

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Bradley Baurain is Associate Professor and Program Head of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Moody Bible Institute. Bradley has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has just published his first book, On Waiting Well. Bradley taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Bradley and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Northwest Indiana.

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