The parable of the lost sheep is one of the most famous parables of Jesus. But are we always aware that it affects us? Are we lost? And if so, how do we find our way back home?
Have you ever heard one of the most beautiful works by Georg Friedrich Handel? I am talking about a work in which he expressively packs what is probably the most significant event in world history in notes: God himself becomes man and comes to earth to save us by dying on the cross. You probably already know what I’m talking about:? The Messiah ?. A huge and expressive oratorio, which will be heard in churches and concert halls in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
But what has the Messiah? now dealing with the content of my article? The oratorio itself is probably not very much, but its topic is quite a lot! But let’s start with the parable of the lost sheep.
In Luke 15: 1-2 (LÜ) we can read how Jesus came to tell the parable of the lost sheep:? But all kinds of tax collectors and sinners approached him to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes grumbled and said:? This accepts sinners and eats with them.
Jesus’ enemies were always on the search according to any act or habit of Jesus for which they could accuse him. So they were also very indignant that Jesus used to deal with people who in their eyes were worthless and to be despised. They assumed that he was comfortable around sinful people and was therefore a sinner himself. They considered themselves educated, noble and extremely pious. For tax collectors and other people who were considered dishonorable, they only had ridicule and hatred. Christ, on the other hand, saw in these people children of God who had moved away from the father’s house, but were still loved by God. In order to show the listeners and also his accusers the love of God for everyone, he told the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15: 4-7 LÜ):
?Which man is among you who has a hundred sheep and, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and goes after the lost one until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lies on his shoulders full of joy. And when he comes home, he calls his friends and neighbors and says to them: Rejoice with me; because I found my sheep that was lost. I tell you: there will be joy in heaven over a sinner who repents, more than ninety-nine righteous who do not need to repent?
Here Christ appeals to the experience of his listeners. The extensive plateaus east of the Jordan offered plenty of pasture for herds of cattle. Sheeps had often strayed into the canyons and forested hills where only the shepherd could find them. Most of Jesus’ listeners understood the comparison of Jesus very well. But what does Jesus want to clarify here??
The image of the lost sheep as a symbol for the lost people appears again and again in the Holy Scriptures. The psalmist confesses the following (Psalm 119, 176 Hfa):? Homeless, I wander around like a sheep that has lost its flock. Look for me, because I still belong to you! I haven’t forgotten what you ordered. We humans are like sheep who cannot find their way back. We wander around the world, trying to find a way out of our dilemma there or there, but we have to fail again and again. We scream after Fulfillment of our lives and have to realize every time that nobody actually hears us and we only lure with our whimper the predators that already smell prey. Where to put our fear of the future? Where to go with the emptiness of loneliness? Where to put our guilt? Who heals the injuries that the thorns and stones have meanwhile brought us?
We do not know exactly why the sheep was lost. It may have deliberately moved away from the shepherd. But it is just as likely that it went off the path unconsciously. In Isaiah 53.6 (LÜ) we read:? We all went astray like sheep, everyone looked on his way.? Isn’t that what separates us from God? We are fixated on our way and lose sight of the shepherd. Now we’re wandering around scared. Maybe it is not us aware that we have lost the shepherd, but we feel that we feel alone and that night is falling.
At this point the 24th choir of the? Messiah? in the ear in which the text quoted above from Isaiah 53.6 is sung. Wildly confused and seemingly without order, the individual voices wander through the area and find no destination (here lay choirs have the easiest to interpret.). "Like the flock, far from the shepherd, we strayed absent-mindedly and everybody made their own way." But then the all-important word comes into the general confusion? The Bible text has not yet ended here, so far I have only omitted the second part:
Isaiah 53,6b (LÜ):? But the Eternal threw all our iniquities on him ?. Jesus Christ the Shepherd carried all our missteps to the cross. He went to the edge of the abyss to save even one lost sheep. Jesus Christ says of himself in John 10:11 (LÜ):? I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep ?. God did everything to get us back. He wants to give us the certainty of eternal life for the future, bring us back from the loneliness of sin, relieve ourselves of the guilt and heal our wounds.
Jesus will seek and find everyone who is not hiding from Him. And if we get lost, he will search and find us again. Will he then reprimand us for having so much trouble with us or driving us with the whip? No, he puts the sheep on his shoulders with joy and carries it home. In the Gospel of John we can read how Jesus speaks about his sheep as follows:? My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will tear them out of my hand. (John 10.27.28 LÜ). So it doesn’t have to be that we get lost. Let’s follow Jesus’ voice that calls us every day! He is the shepherd who will ensure that we get everything we need. He wants to lead us to lush meadows and refreshing water sources. He will always lead us and show us the right way. And when the path leads through a dark valley, it goes straight to our side. (Psalm 23)
Are you a sheep that got lost? Then let him take you on your shoulders. Are you a sheep that goes with the shepherd? Then always follow his voice. The psalmist calls us (Psalm 100.3 Hfa):? Realize that the Lord is our God! He made us his people, we belong to him! He cares for us like a shepherd for his flock!?
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