2nd Week of Advent

 

Will he not . . . go in search of the stray? 

 

There’s nothing like a parable to illustrate a spiritual point in a new way or to offer new insight to a familiar point.   Jesus used these short stories drawn from everyday life to surprise his hearers and help them grasp the truth about life in his kingdom.   Rather than simple tales, Jesus’ parables always had some kind of twist that was meant to surprise his hearers and move them to deeper faith.   So what kind of twist is in this simple, familiar story?

We tend to think of Jesus as the main character in the parable.   He is, after all, the “good shepherd” who lays down his life for his sheep (John 10:11).   But this time, Jesus tells us that God the Father is also like a shepherd:   “It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost” (Matthew 18:14, emphasis added).   He is telling us that the One who made the heavens and the earth, almighty God himself, is as tender and loving as any shepherd.

In Jesus’ time, shepherds were known for their special relationship with the sheep under their care.   The shepherd wasn’t just familiar with the markings of each one; he knew its disposition as well.   It was his job to watch carefully over the flock, find the best grazing spot, and steer the sheep away from anything that might harm them.   In short, the shepherd was deeply devoted to his sheep.

This is the God we believe in.   He is intimately familiar with everything about you and completely devoted to your care.   He is attentive to your needs and eager to bring you back when you lose your way.   Best of all, he is filled with joy when you are restored.

So if you are feeling overwhelmed by a troubling problem, remember that God knows the situation inside and out.   He knows what you need and can lead you through any knotty situation.   And if you—or any of your loved ones—stray off the path, he is ready to pursue you and bring you back.

Isn’t it comforting to know that no matter what life throws at you, God is looking after you?   Isn’t it comforting to know that he will find you and bring you back?

“Father, thank you for pursuing me and my loved ones!”

Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 96:1-3, 10-13

Word Among Us