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Thought for the Day – Tuesday 26th November 2013

26/11/2013

The Saving Shepherd

Isn’t the weather strange?  It wasn’t that long ago when, to most people’s surprise we had a serious fall of snow – right in the middle of spring.  One of the saddest sights of that snowfall was the images of sheep lost in the snow, covered up, freezing, at the mercy of wild beasts and in danger of dying in the severe cold. I was greatly impressed by the determination of the farmers who sought their lost animals.  They were prepared to suffer great personal hardships and dangers in the quest for the lost animals.  Many such searches went on for weeks.

Yet in the middle of all the sadness there were some bright moments, like when the news media informed us that two sheep had been found and rescued, weeks after the first snowstorms.  There were photos of the shepherd lifting them out of the deep hole in the snow, and carrying them to a place of safety.

Jesus told a story very similar to this.  He spoke of a shepherd who had a hundred sheep.  Ninety-nine of them were safe inside the sheepfold, but one was missing.  The shepherd wasted no time in getting out onto the hillside and searching for the animal.  Again the search was relentless, and again it was successful.  And when the lost sheep was found there was great rejoicing.

And what about the sheep? What was it’s role in the rescue?  Well, nothing actually! It is simply to trust the shepherd, not put up too much of a struggle and allow itself to be rescued.  After all, the lost sheep is vulnerable, in peril, and unable to help itself.  It can’t get out of the snow by its own efforts.  It has tried, and in trying all it has achieved is to exhaust itself, and become even more at risk.  So the shepherd searches and digs and looks, and pulls that lost sheep up out of its misery and despair and brings it safely home to the fold.  – and all the lost exhausted sheep can do is to trust the shepherd to do his saving work.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus used the work of the shepherd as an illustration of what He has done for his people in taking their place on the Cross, and calling them to himself and redeeming them. He said:

“I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

And what an apt illustration also of the helplessness of the sinner, and the simple need to trust the Saviour.

Broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Good Morning Ulster’ programme.

From → Evangelism

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