The Parable of the lost Sheep Part 3
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
When he lays you on His shoulders it is a fitting act. He may say to His sheep, “I am laying you on my shoulders because you are my sheep.” He makes this claim, not by words, but by His actions, since a man does not carry away a sheep that does not belong to him; He is not a sheep stealer, but a shepherd owner. He holds the sheep tightly, by its four legs, and then He lays it on His own shoulders because it is his own now. He seems to say, “I am a long way from home, and this is a desert where you have wandered, but I have found my sheep and these hands will hold it.”
Here are our Lord’s own words, “I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” I can’t imagine that hands as strong as Jesus’ hands would not be able to hold on to the sheep. Shoulders with such power as Jesus’ shoulders will carry the rescued soul safely home. That soul is in good hands, just as it had always been because it had belonged to Him by the eternal purposes of God. Do you remember when Jesus said to you, “Thou art mine”?
It was an act that gave rest because the sheep could go no farther because it was exhausted and weak. What a rest it is to us to know that we are carried along by the eternal power of Christ. “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.” Jesus carries us today: we don’t need to be strong and our weakness is no hindrance because he carries us. Didn’t Jesus say, “I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry and will deliver you.”
We cannot stumble or fall because He carries us. We don’t need to be afraid because he will carry us all the way to His home above. This thought is expressed very sweetly in Deuteronomy: “The Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bare his son, in all the way that he went until he came into this place.” What a blessing it is to give yourself into those hands and shoulders to carry you to the end. Our Savior never fails, because He devotes Himself to our salvation and concentrates upon that with all He is, and all He has.
There is only one more point to be made, which is-That there is one source of joy. The man who had lost his sheep is filled with joy, but the sheep is the source of it. The sheep had taken up all his thoughts and were the focus of all his concern, so when he found it he focuses all his care on it, and now he finds that all his joy flows from it.
Notice the mention of the joy we get: “When he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” You might say, “That’s a great load for you, shepherd.” But he answers joyfully, “I am glad to have it on my shoulders.” The mother does not say, when she has found her lost child, “This is a heavy load.” No; she holds it close, and she doesn’t mind that it is heavy; she is glad to carry it again. Do you remember this verse, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”
When our load was laid on Him, Christ felt a great sadness; but a great joyfulness came to Him when He thought how we had been saved from our lost condition. He said to Himself, “I have taken them up upon my shoulders, and no one can hurt them now, and they can’t wander off again so long as I have them. I am bearing their sin and they shall never come into condemnation. The penalty for their guilt has been laid on me so that it will never be laid on them. I am bearing their sin so that they will never have to bear my Fathers righteous anger.” Because He loved them it was joy every time the lash was laid to His back; His love for them made it a delight when the nails pierced His hands and feet.
For their sake, He could even bear the absence of his Father. There may be an analogy that will help us to understand in a very small measure what Jesus felt. Imagine that a son is sick in a place that is very far away from home. A text message is sent home with word that he has a severe fever, and he may die. His mother says that she must go to take care of him, and she is miserable until she is able to go. She finds her boy in a very depressing place, but for the moment it is a cherished place to her. She is happy to leave the comforts of her home and to care for her boy and to work hard for long hours because she loves him. She feels loving joy caring for her boy, and refuses to leave his bedside, and only falls asleep from exhaustion after long hours of watching and worrying over him. You could not have kept her at home; she would have been too miserable. It was a great pleasure for her to be able to minister to her son.
Remember, you have given Jesus great joy in saving you. He was forever with the Father, eternally happy, always glorious, He was God and over all; however He needed to come here out of boundless love, take upon Himself our nature, and suffer in our place to bring us back to fellowship with God. “He layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing.” That day, the shepherd knew just one joy. He had found his sheep, and the pressure of it on his shoulders made his heart light because he knew that the object of his care was safe beyond any doubt.
Now when he takes the sheep home with him, he invites his friends and neighbors to join him in a celebration: “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.” One sinner had repented and all heaven must rejoice about it. Friends, I believe that there is enough joy in the heart of Christ over his saved ones to overflow heaven with gladness. He calls us today to come and bring our hearts like empty bottles so that He can fill them with joy. Those of us who are saved must enter into the joy of our Lord. Can you see in your mind’s eye the Lord bringing in each one of his sheep, and the joy that they give Him? Jesus would have no joy if He were to lose even one; it would spoil it all.
The thing I want to impress upon you is how our Lord gives Himself up to His redeemed. How completely He gives every thought, every action to the needy, guilty, lost soul. He gives all He has to bring them to Him. Those who believe in Him, have all His strength engaged on their behalf. Blessed be His name! Let’s love Him with all our heart because He gave all He had to work out our salvation. Let’s love Him, even though we can’t love Him as much as He loves us. Let’s love Him with all our heart and soul. Let us love nothing, see nothing, know nothing except Jesus crucified. He should fill our hearts because we filled His heart.
If you are here today but don’t know Christ, will you give your heart to the Good Shepherd? Will you accept His grace? You know that He is the only one who can rescue you from sin and death. Whisper a prayer to Him-“Come Lord and save me, for I trust in you.” If you will pray that prayer, then you will receive the mark of Christ’s sheep, for He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Come to Him, because He comes to you. Look to Him, because He is looking at you.