Tuesday: 14th August, 2018
Reference text: Matthew 18:1-5,18,12-14
Matthew 18:12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
As seen in the ever popular words of Psalm 23, ‘the Lord is my shepherd’, when we embark on a journey through time in the word of God; we will realise that on many occasions when reference is made to the believer, the association is often made to ‘sheep’. As examples, we come across the encounter where Jesus asks Peter to feed his sheep and lambs (Jn. 21:15ff) and the Psalmist using the words ‘we your people and the sheep of your pasture’ (Ps 79:13a). That leaves us wondering: ‘why sheep’?
In the Gospel, using the word ‘suppose’ or as in other versions ‘if’, Jesus creates a hypothetical situation where a farmer may opt to leave a group of 99 sheep on the hill side in search of a single stray- and we are left again to wonder: why? If this farmer was the only shepherd watching over all hundred sheep, looking at this from a mathematical point of view, then he made the wrong call: Why risk losing 99 to save ONE?
However, from a shepherd’s point of view, that was the better choice. This farmer understood what it was like ‘to be a sheep’ hence opted to go in search of the stray. Unlike some other animals, regardless of age, sheep tend to possess a ‘herd instinct’- they choose to move together as a unit. Hence, the only rare occasions one is likely to see just a single sheep, is because that sheep has lost contact with the rest of the herd.
To show their distress, one will often hear regular bleats, accompanied by frantic searching until a reconnection with the herd is made. Beloved, for anyone to move from an environment of belonging, to one of isolation, is a very dangerous position to be in. This farmer thus realised that getting the sheep back into the fold was top priority, hence his call.
Sweetheart, whatever our reasons may be: anger, hurt or just because we think we have strayed, let’s not opt to stay isolated for too long from the company of believers.
Remember # God wants you back in the fold because there, he has his eyes fixed on, and your safety is guaranteed.