ODJ: pursued

November 21, 2013 

READ: Luke 15:1-7 

Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost? (v.4).

In the Middle East, where the Bedouin culture is alive and well, you’ll find shepherds who care for their sheep with great tenderness and watchfulness. I once observed some of these men at work, and I was amazed at their intimate care for their flocks. They protect their woolly friends from storms and predators, disease and hunger. And if one of the fluffy creatures ever goes missing, they’ll search until it’s found.

Jesus revealed that this is God’s posture towards us. He’s the Good Shepherd, and His love compels Him to come after all who are estranged or lost. The biblical narrative reminds us that we’re all lost—needing to be found. “All of us,” says Isaiah, are “like sheep [and] have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own” (Isaiah 53:6). But God won’t leave us to ruin. He comes after us.

In His parable, Jesus put the question this way: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?” (Luke 15:4) Well, anyone who knows a true shepherd knows the answer: the shepherd will brave the weather, brave the dark night and—at great cost to himself—search for the lost sheep.

This is precisely what God has done for us in Jesus. He didn’t leave us to our own devices. He didn’t push us away after our rebellious wanderings. Instead, at great cost to Himself, God pursued us. His love moved Him to act.

God’s love isn’t merely for those who obey or who behave properly. His love is also for those who have strayed. And Jesus reveals that “there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than [over those who] haven’t strayed away” (v.7). What an amazing God and Good Shepherd we have! —Winn Collier

Return to the Isaiah 53 passage, reading verses 1-6. What other expressions of God’s pursuing love do you find there? 
Where are you now? Are you lost or found? How do you sense God pursuing you?