The Last Word

BLOG SHEEPAtEdgeOfCliff

I love the parable of the lost sheep. I especially love the pivotal question posed by Luke: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4).

BLOG SHEEPMotherAndLamJesus often used sheep as He taught, and there’s a good reason for that. In Jesus’s day, sheep were considered a prized possession; you were considered wealthy if you owned large flocks of sheep. But perhaps more pertinent to the Savior were the characteristics of sheep. Sheep are sweet and loving. Placid. Peaceful. The sheep pay undivided attention to their shepherd; they respond to his voice. Go where he directs. Follow him without question. To read more, click the button below.

I wonder, do I do the same with my Shepherd?

Sheep are also completely dependent on their shepherd. In a flock, they have some protection in numbers; on its own, a lone sheep is defenseless. It must be protected and rescued by the shepherd. A sheep that tips over onto its back is helpless; it can’t get on its feet again. In such a circumstance, it can die of starvation thrashing helplessly in the grass. Only with the help of the shepherd can the sheep get back on its feet.

That’s not all. Other animals that are injured lick a wound until it heals. Sheep can’t do that. They depend on the shepherd to tend to their injuries.

BLOG SHEEPLambInArmsI wonder again: Do I have the depth of humility to realize that I too am defenseless on my own, dependent on my Shepherd to protect and rescue and heal me? To put me back on my feet? To tend to my wounds—especially those of the heart and spirit?

Back to the parable and Luke’s critical question. We might ask, how realistic is it that a shepherd would leave ninety-nine sheep and go off in search of one that was lost? Catholic Archbishop Blasé Cupich wondered the same thing, so he went right to the source and asked a shepherd. The shepherd verified that such was totally realistic—“and when he returns the one to the fold,” the shepherd said, “the other sheep realize he will do the same for each of them, and as a result, they more tightly bond with the shepherd as one they trust.”

BLOG SHEEPLostSheepMichael W. Smith, a Grammy Award-winning recording artist and philanthropist, drilled down to the core of the matter, referring to what we might see as “the reckless inefficiency of the shepherd’s response. I mean, why not just cut your losses and keep the ninety-nine?” And then Smith answered the way we would all answer: “I was the one. I was the sheep who lost my way. And I am so grateful that God was ‘reckless’ enough to come find me.”

We have all been the one.

BLOG SHEEPOnPathSome who are “lost” have separated themselves from the shepherd and the flock through sin. But many others are lost in different ways. The lost sheep might be a newly called bishop. A married couple who misunderstand each other. A new missionary in a foreign culture. A person who has just lost a job. A grandmother whose children have forgotten her. A college student, far from home, faced with loneliness. A person who is in financial distress. A mother who feels overwhelmed. A man who feels discouraged because he has not lived up to his potential. In every ward and stake there may be those who, after struggling through life’s battles, are weak and tired—and, as Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “as the flock moves on, gradually, almost imperceptibly, some fall behind.”

It could be any of us. All of us. Because, as Isaiah wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6).

Now consider this: God sent His Son to save all those who are lost. You. Me. All of us.

Renowned seventeenth-century Bible scholar Matthew Henry said that the Savior never leaves the lost sheep to perish. “Instead, He lays it on His shoulders, and, with a great deal of tenderness and labor, brings it to the fold. . . . Those can never perish whom He carries upon His shoulders.”

We have all spent time as the one. It doesn’t matter how or why. The Savior loves me, and He loves you. And because of that, He will find me. He will find you. He will lift us, tenderly place us on His shoulders, and carry us home.

BLOG SHEEPShepherd

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