Paying Attention

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? Luke 15:4 NIV

The parable of the lost sheep is a favourite of mine, and a favourite for many others too. It wraps up the love and patience of Jesus in coming after His sheep if and when he or she strays. That’s clearly us, because we do tend to stray, and that’s why we love the story.

For the first time in many years of reading this story I noticed a part of the action of the Shepherd, which is not said, but is hidden in the text. What stands out to you? The thought of being carried home? The action of the Shepherd ‘going after’ His sheep? The fact that He felt confident enough to leave the other sheep without a Shepherd while He went looking? These are all amazing characteristics of our Shepherd Saviour, and how he loves us. But is something obvious being left unsaid?

Before He did any of the actions that a Shepherd would do for the sheep that were His responsibility, He must have noticed that something was wrong. He made regular counts and this time it brought home the truth that one was not there, so that’s why He went after it and did all He could to bring it back? I suggest it was because He cared for all the sheep, and so  knew when one was missing. Think about that. Jesus cares for His sheep who are lost. He notices. The Shepherd pays attention to the one who is not there in His safekeeping.

Fast forward to our day and age. To a degree we are all shepherds with some responsibility to help bring lost sheep home where we can. We are not the Good Shepherd, but we can be good enough to notice, or care enough to act when we discover that someone is not out at church. But first, like Jesus the great Shepherd, we must care enough to notice. Only when we pay attention can we continue to do the other things described in the parable. May God help us all to pay more attention and care when it is needed!

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