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  • Writer's pictureFirst Pres Bakerstown

The Pursuing Shepherd by Pastor Paul Becker

March 12, 2023

And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it

more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.

-Matthew 18:13-

The Parable of the Lost Sheep is required reading for every follower of Christ. Why? Because every follower will wander from Jesus and his flock. A well-known hymn, Come Thou Fount, says it well: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” This is an honest confession of sin against God and love for him. We are often trapped between these realities. We are fortunate that God sends Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to find and return us to his fold. On Sunday, we learned three things about Jesus being a pursuing shepherd.

First, the Shepherd loves his sheep. As his sheep, he offers his love to us, not because of our goodness, achievements, or anything we have done to deserve his favor. We are his sheep because he chose to pursue us and to bring us into his sheepfold.

Second, the Shepherd’s love compels him to look for his wandering sheep. We all can assess how close we are in following Jesus. And if we take the scripture seriously, we also have the ability to see that following Jesus requires us to remain in his sheepfold. When we wander from the fold, we are vulnerable to spiritual attack from our blind sides. We are also vulnerable to consuming material that poisons our souls and falling into pits from which we can not escape on our own. If you have wandered from your Shepherd’s watch, respond to his call with sorrow for wandering.

Third, the Shepherd rejoices when wandering sheep are returned to his fold. When we wander from Jesus, we are often conflicted with guilt and shame. And though we hide, he will find us. And when he reaches us, he does not approach with anger or frustration, but with rejoicing. Hear what the prophet Zephaniah said about the Lord who saves his sheep:

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.

-Zeph 3:17-

Jesus is your pursuing shepherd and he pursued you at the expense of his life. His most treacherous pursuit happened when he atoned for your sins on the cross of Calvary. He gave his life so that you could be saved from death and restored to the fold of God. Please, keep yourself from wandering. And if you have strayed from the fold, hear the call of the Shepherd to return.

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