Unexpected Loss #3
Shepherd and Sheep
According to biblical accounts and historical documentations of the people of the middle east it is known that one of their commonest job during this period is shepherding, therefore, Jesus shared with them the parable of shepherd and his sheep because he knows that they will easily grasp that.
This parable he equates with God’s feelings, reactions over anyone who comes to the knowledge of Jesus in repentance and submission to his will.
“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?
“And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
“And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Luk. 15:4-7)
Many times people think God would speak to them through hidden means, through what they do not know. Some would think God would use abstract things, to speak to them, use things in advanced countries to speak to those in developing countries and things in developing countries to speak to those who live in the advanced countries.
We, however, need to know that God over the times does not do like that, he will start to speak to us through what we know and from there move to what we do not know.
This is what the mathematicians also do while resolving a conundrum question or equations, they will start from known to the unknown.
Jesus goes from the known to the unknown while dealing with us because that is how God has been dealing with men and prophets of old, he will show them what they know and from there he will begin to talk to them about what they do not know. (Jer. 1:13; Exo. 3:ff)
It will be of great assistance to our understanding this parable if we can know few things about shepherd.
1. Takes care of sheep
Shepherds are those who take care of the sheep. Psalms 23 speaks a volume about the duties of the shepherds.
2. Monitors the Sheep to grow
As they monitor the sheep, they take care of the sheep and would not want anything to happen to the sheep. As they monitor the sheep they notice how the sheep grows from one to hundred, thousands and more. (Gen. 30)
3. They are Happy for the Growth
When the numerical strength of the sheep increases they are elated with this because it means God has blessed the work of their hands for indeed that is what they are looking forward to.
4. Period of Loss
Like business people who have periods of loss and gain. During the period when a business person loses he or she would not be happy for the incident and would be seeking for means of gaining that which he has lost back. In the same way does it happen with the shepherds, at some instances they also lose some of their sheep, and when this happens like a business person who becomes sad, they also become sad and would be looking for means of getting that which has been lost back.
Causes of the Loss of Sheep
Let us see some of the things that could bring about the loss of the sheep.
(i) Dangerous Animals Stealing the Sheep: Since they are being tendered at the fields and other open places, the animals and the shepherds are exposed to dangerous animals, and it has been recorded that dangerous animals do come to steal those sheep and kill the sheep. Example of incidents as this was given by David to King Saul and other generals to convince them that he will confront Goliath and God will deliver him into his hand, yea Israel’s hands.
“And David said unto Saul, thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:
And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.
“Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
“David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.” (1 Sam. 17:34-37)
(ii) Sickness of the Sheep Resulting in Death: As humans do contract infectious diseases and other diseases, it has been discovered that they also could become infected by diseases. When they are infected by diseases the shepherd would be given them all the known drugs to heal them, because he would not want to lose them to the cold hands of death. however, like humans, sometimes those drugs would not work and the sick animal would yet die.
(iii) Effects of Bad Weather: As bad weather does have negative effects on humans and other living things, so does it to animals, and sometimes they would affect the movement of those animals and they would walk astray, amiss from home. On the hand bad weather could lead to their death also.
(iv) Enemies Attack: Enemies could attack the shepherd and the sheep and they would carry them away even if the shepherd escapes (Gen. 14: 11; 1 Sam. 25: 2-15; Job 1:15-16)
The Unfortunate Happened, One Missing
In the account which Jesus gave here, he told his hearers that something terrible also happened while the shepherd was shepherding his sheep, he after a while discovered that one of the sheep is missing. How the sheep got missing was not stated, however one thing that was discovered in the message is that the sheep did not die nor was it sick before the incident happened.
His Response to the Incident
Let us see the immediate and the delayed response to the incident.
Demonstration of Love
Highest form of love was shown by the man in this that he leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one that is missing. This is the kind of love God has for all and sundry in the world irrespective of our sinful nature.
- The Delayed Response
After he discovered that one of the sheep was missing, and he grows over the immediate response of sadness he does the followings:
(a) Think: He sat down to think about what to do about what has happened, like a business person will sit down to analyze how the loss has entered the business and what to do to recoup the money lost back. He sat down to analyze his trips through the wilderness, how he has tendered those sheep and the likely point where the animal would have gone missing.
(b) His Resolution, Going After the Lost Sheep: After resolving the likely places where the sheep would have been missing, he decides that he will go after the missing sheep.
“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?” (Luk. 15:4)
(c) Hard Decision: he took a hard decision and it is that he left the ninety-nine sheep to go and look for the single one that is missing.
On Another Note:
Maybe as they are walking he has been noticing, the weak or sick one among them and has been thinking that when he gets to the shelter, he will have time to attend to it better and has been internally praying that the animal would manage to the shelter, but along the line something crops up and he has to attend to other healthier sheep and could not focus the weak one as before, and while he went back to look for the animal it was nowhere to be found among others.
Jesus in this parable shows a probability that the shepherd because of the numbers of sheep he was shepherding did not notice that one has missed until he gets to his abode, for assuming he had noticed early he perhaps would have tendered those sheep back and they would jointly go in search of the sheep, for as they are bleating, the lost sheep may heard others bleating and locate them. this was not the case, he did not tender them back because they perhaps have gotten to their shelter, their abode before counting them and noticed that one is missing among them.
Jesus here in shows that he is the one who can save, and no other person, this is because sometimes we get missing among the crowd and the ministers in charge, pastors and other spiritual leaders would think all is well with us without knowing that all is not well with us, but the Lord who sees the hearts of men know we are missing among the crowd and would locate us where we are hiding as he found out Saul when he was hiding among the stuff. (1 Sam. 10:22)
- His Immediate Response to the Missing
The immediate response of the man to the missing sheep was that he was very sad about the incident. Adrenergic stimulation happened, he started perspiring because of his love for the sheep.
Looking for Faithful Shepherd
Assuming he notices this earlier, that is before he tendered the sheep far from where they are, what would come to his mind is looking for a good shepherd to look after the ninety-nine sheep that he wants to leave behind, because as a good shepherd he will not want to leave the animals alone like that without having someone who will be looking after them. This was what David and his team be unto Nabal’s shepherd in the wilderness. (1 Sam. 25; 17)
In the next article I shall be continuing with the work of the shepherd as related to this parable.
© 2021 OLUSEGUN