There are two places in the Bible where we can find the parable of the lost sheep. In Matthew 18 Jesus told this parable to his disciples when they asked him who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven and in Luke 15 he also described this same parable to the Jews religious leaders while they criticized him as he talked with the sinners and tax collectors.
The real meaning of this parable would be easy to understand after knowing the characteristics of sheep. Sheep are innocent and humble creatures. They need a shepherd as they cannot defend themselves while a wolf or any wild animal attacks them. They can’t run fast, they do not have sharp teeth and claws to protect themselves from their enemies.
Sheep is extremely dependent on the shepherd. We often see the flock of sheep grazing at the roadside and the shepherd is always present with them. As sheep are not smart enough to make the right decision for their life, they cannot survive without the guidance of a shepherd so they are completely dependable on their shepherd.
In the parable, we find a man who has one hundred sheep and when he lost one sheep, immediately he left the ninety-nine and went to search for the lost one. The moment he found his lost sheep, he took him up on his shoulder with happiness and invited his friends and neighbours to celebrate the joy along with him. Jesus says that there is joy and happiness that fills heaven while one sinner repents for his sins and turns to God.
In this parable, Jesus depicts the real purpose of his coming into this world.
What Do Sheep Represent In The Bible?
God did not create man the way he created other creatures. He made man by his own image. So He has a great love for mankind. The sin of Adam and Eve caused the man to be separated from His presence.
Thus, mankind lost its master. There was a fellowship between man and God in heaven before the entrance of sin. The man had no fear for his life but the moment he lost his position he was asked to collect his food to survive himself and he became a mortal being as well.
Now we all are in a fallen state. The Bible says that we mankind are the sheep who have gone astray (1 Peter 2:25). We are burdened with our sins. We all have sinned against the Lord.
Isaiah 53:6 also affirms that we have gone astray like sheep. As sheep are guided by a shepherd so they may not lose their life, in the same manner, we need God to find the way of life.
In today’s time, man has brought many devices and machines to keep his physical body well. Yet, he fails to live an everlasting life on this earth. Even we have been noticing many famous people are committing suicide because they do not find a way to live a peaceful life.
Our journey on this earth will be easy only when we follow Jesus as our Lord. All of our efforts will give us no profit until we surrender our wills before the Lord. Since we are just like sheep, we are not wise and unable to protect ourselves when our enemy attacks us.
Jesus said that the sheep which left his flock was lost. It means we are actually lost from our exact position. The shepherd went to search for the lost sheep in order to give him the previous place where he was safe and secure.
In the garden of Eden man was free from all kinds of problems as he was protected by his creature. Jesus tried to depict that he came to give the man his previous position where he was free from all evils.
Who Is The Shepherd?
In the parable, Jesus revealed that he is the shepherd who came in the form of the Messiah to save the lost sheep. To his disciples, Jesus told them that they should humble themselves and they were needed to change their attitudes. As they were asking who is greatest in the kingdom of God,
Jesus replied the answer with this parable. He made it clear that he came to this world to redeem the fallen man as they are like lost sheep who need a master and the right direction to be saved from their enemies.
Jesus says that he is the good shepherd (John 10:11). He also says that a good shepherd does not care to sacrifice his own life when the wild animals attack his beloved sheep. In reality, we all know that Jesus gave his life for his sheep.
In Matthew 15:24 Jesus says that he came to save the children of Israel from the upcoming wrath of God. It is evident that God will judge every single person according to his righteousness and we all have to face that judgement (Hebrews 9:27).
We can escape judgement only through Jesus. Jesus came on this earth in the form of a shepherd to save his sheep from the great judgement of the Lord.
The miraculous works of Jesus presented that he is really the true shepherd who is worthy to save his sheep from the hand’s of Satan. He promised his sheep that he will always be with them till the end of this world (Matthew 28:20).
He did not dare to buy his sheep by shedding the blood on the cross. He left an example to his sheep that no one can ever love them like him. The sacrificial act of Jesus narrates that he is a shepherd who left his ninety-nine sheep in search of the lost one.
What Did The Shepherd Do To Save The Lost Sheep?
Jesus has proved that he really loves us by sacrificing himself in order to purchase us from the power of Sin. In the parable, we see that the shepherd left his ninety-nine sheep and went to search for the one which was lost from the flock. In the same manner, Jesus left heaven and came into this world to find the lost mankind to deliver them.
Jesus took the form of a real human being and suffered and eventually sacrificed to save the sinful man so they can be found in the eyes of the Lord. He became the true shepherd to save the sheep from the enemy’s hand.
His arrival on this earth was not a sudden incident rather it was foretold long ago before his manifestation. It was in the mind of God that man would be saved by the Messiah who will be their redeemer (Isaiah 9:6).
In that parable, we notice that the shepherd took the lost sheep upon his shoulder and invited all of his friends and neighbours to celebrate the joy along with him. Jesus says that the same thing happens when a sinner repents for his sins and accepts Jesus as his saviour. Jesus knows everything about heaven because he alone came from above ( John 3:13).
He told us that we can know God through him as he has revealed the Father through his works. Jesus became the real shepherd and saved the fallen man from the wrath of God.
What Is The Moral Lesson Of The Lost Sheep?
Jesus is a master teacher. He teaches us a great lesson that we need to become like a child in order to inherit the kingdom of God. As long as we will walk like proud men, God will never allow us to be a part of his kingdom. The Lord hate those who are proud in their hearts. He seeks meek and humble people.
Jesus teaches us that we need to be humble like a child and at the same time all of our works must be based upon the truths and for the welfare of others. Instead of thinking about our own benefits, we must pay heed to others.
Just like a child, we need to obey our God and always walk according to his will. A child is always dependent upon his parents and we should also depend on the strength of God. We need to confess that we are weak and our God is powerful to deliver us from our trials, temptations and persecutions.
The believers should always listen to their pastor who is their shepherd. The Lord has appointed such a shepherd to look after his sheep, so we must respect them and hear what they say about the Lord.
In our spiritual walk, we must evaluate ourselves on a regular basis so we may stick to the Lord The devil always walks around us to devour us the moment we are far from our protector.
Though we may consider ourselves wise in the sight of God we are just like sheep. We are not powerful enough to withstand in front of our enemy. So, we are to follow our shepherd.