He Came for Each One
"... Jesus told them this parable, '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? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. ... I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:3-7, NIV)
This is not a Pentecost ministry here on the Crow Indian Reservation. People are not saved by the thousands or hundreds. They aren’t even saved by the tens. Out here, the Lord finds and gathers the lost one or two at a time. In 2014, there were two baptisms for which we praise God.
In Luke, Jesus points out that He’s not in a numbers game. He tells a story of losing one sheep from a flock of a hundred. A shepherd loves all his sheep, even the unruly ones, the ones who just wander off and the ones too slow to stay with the flock. So, Jesus goes searching for the lost one because of love, saying, “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.”
Now, finding a lost sheep is not much different than finding a lost sinner. Neither one comes when you call. They get stuck in hopeless holes. They try to hide, but they are in grave danger because death stalks them. Once found, the lost one doesn’t jump up and follow the shepherd home. Oh no, he’s far too weak and exhausted. Being lost drains both a sheep and a human.
As the Good Shepherd, Jesus knew the only way to carry a lost sinner home is by a cross. Yes, on that cross, which we easily overlook in Advent, Jesus shouldered lost sinners home. One of those was a criminal on a cross next to His. The road home led through pain and blood and shame and hell and death. Yet, it led through an open tomb into eternal life.
Even if you were the only person in all of history who was a lost sinner, the Shepherd would have come to find and save you. He shouldered you to carry you home by His cross and empty tomb. Yes, Jesus welcomes sinners, so He came to seek and to save that which was lost—each and every one of us.
Dear Father, thank You for the abundance of Your love by which You sent Your Son to come to find and save me, a lost sinner. Please fill me with Your love for the lost so I may be a useful tool for welcoming sinners into the joy of heaven. Amen.
- Rev. Dan Jacobs, Crow Agency, Montana
Montana/Crow Agency is Associate Ministry of Lutheran Indian Ministries. Visit our Locations and Staff page to learn more about our other Associate Ministry locations along with all of our staff and where they serve.