So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:3-7, NASB)
As long as we are together in this battle, I will do my best to remind you – and myself – that we are battling! It is easy to forget. That is one of the things that even a little bit of fasting does to help us. The morsels of food one will not eat between meals, the recreational shopping in which we do not indulge, the commonplace entertainments or the commonplace grumblings which we fast, all serve to remind us that we are engaged in something beyond ourselves and our day-to-day comforts.
We need another reminder, and it is just as important.
We need to remember continually, we are out in search of lost sheep, we have found them, and now we are bringing them home on our shoulders … rejoicing!
Sheep are not as real and pertinent to me as they probably were to the men of Israel in Jesus’ day, so I thought about … horses! No, I couldn’t bring one home on my shoulders, not hardly, but if I had a stable full of beautiful racing steeds or a pasture where prize palominos or Morgans or … Clydesdales! … could be turned out to graze, and if one were lost … oh yes, there would be a full-on search!
And when I found the one that got away, oh how greatly I would rejoice! With rope or bridle in hand, I would bring him out and bring him home, and my heart would be pounding with joy.
Sheep do make such a better illustration for us, because those for whom we pray … we can and we do shoulder this burden, and gladly, but the value of a prize gelding, a favorite, the one we might take out for a run every day, oh! how we would rejoice to have it back again!
Now, just to bring everything home, how about the dog, the puppy that got away and could not at first be found … or the child that ran off at the market or the park? Who among us has not known the joy of something precious, found?
The shepherd rejoiced all the way home, and then called his friends to rejoice with him. Rejoice now, my dear friends, warriors, and with all respect, warrior maidens! Rejoice now! You have shouldered the burden, and they are coming home.
Palmomino Quarter Horse
by Rumo, Wikipedia, by permission