The Signs of the Times


November 20, 1893

The Good Shepherd's Estimate of a Lost Sheep


“Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And He spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” ST November 20, 1893, par. 1

The mission and work of Christ did not harmonize with the work of the Pharisees. They were full of self-conceit, and they saw that Christ did not approve of their works. He gave them no flattering words to nourish their pride. They were disappointed that Jesus, who manifested to the world so lofty a character, did not mingle with them, and practice their manner of teaching, rather than go about in so unpretending a manner, working among all classes of people. They saw among the people who listened with rapt attention those who did not belong to the Jewish nation, and who had never manifested the least interest in their teaching. ST November 20, 1893, par. 2

When the Pharisees expressed their discontent because of the class of people with whom he mingled, Jesus set the matter before them in the parable of the lost sheep. But their understanding was darkened; for Satan had power over their minds, and they arrayed themselves in opposition to Jesus. The Pharisees said that if Jesus were a true prophet, he would harmonize with them, and voice their precepts and maxims, and treat the wretched publicans and sinners as they treated them. In giving his Son to die for the sins of the world, the Lord God made manifest what was the estimate he placed upon men; for in giving Jesus to the world, he gave heaven's best gift. For this costly sacrifice the most profound gratitude is demanded from every soul. Whatever may be the nation kindred, or tongue, whether a man is white or black, he still bears the image of God, and “the proper study of mankind is man,” viewed from the fact that he is the purchase of the blood of Christ. To show contempt for, to manifest hatred toward any nation, is to reveal the characteristic of Satan. God has placed his estimate upon man in giving Jesus to a life of humiliation, poverty, and self-sacrifice, to contempt, rejection, and death, in order that man, his lost sheep, might be saved. Is it then a remarkable thing that all heaven is interested in the ransom of man? Is it a wonderful fact that ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of angels are employed in ascending and descending on the mystic ladder to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation? Angels do not come to the earth to denounce and to destroy, to rule and to exact homage, but are messengers of mercy to cooperate with the Captain of the Lord's host, to cooperate with the human agents who shall go forth to seek and to save the lost sheep. Angels are commanded to encamp round about those who fear and love God. ST November 20, 1893, par. 3

The sympathy of all heaven is enlisted on behalf of the sheep that is wandering far from the fold. If the Pharisees had been working in harmony with God, in place of uniting with the adversary of God and man, they would not have been found despising the purchase of the blood of Christ. As the delusions of Satan are broken from human minds, as the sinner looks to Calvary, and sees the costly offering that has been given to save an apostate and ruined race, he contemplates and is deeply moved by the love of God, and becomes repentant. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” Oh, that we might comprehend the love of God and even to a faint degree take in the compassion that has been manifested toward fallen man! How would we look and live! By beholding Christ man becomes changed and transformed in character from glory to glory. The conflict between light and darkness is entered upon. Look, poor sinner, represented by the lost sheep after whom the shepherd is seeking, look to the cross! The Pharisees may hold in contempt the very one whom the Lord is anxious to save. In the poor blind man restored to sight by the compassionate Shepherd, was one whom the self-righteous Pharisees thought worthy only of sneers and hatred. ST November 20, 1893, par. 4

Jesus, the Son of the Highest, is combating the powers of Satan, who is laying every possible device whereby he may counteract the work of God. The prize for which the powers of light and darkness are contending, is the soul of man. The Good Shepherd is seeking his sheep, and what self-denial, what hardships, what privations he endures! The under shepherds know something of the stern conflict, but little in comparison to what is endured by the Shepherd of the sheep. With what compassion, what sorrow, what persistence, he seeks the lost! How few realize what desperate efforts are put forth by Satan to defeat the Shepherd's purpose. When the Shepherd at last finds his lost sheep, he gathers it in his arms with rejoicing, and bears it back to the fold on his shoulders. And the harps of heaven are touched, and an anthem of rejoicing is sung over the ransom of the wandering and lost sheep. “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.” ST November 20, 1893, par. 5

How does the contrast appear between the scowling scribes and Pharisees and the Christ they condemned, misinterpreting his mission, and putting upon his words the worst possible construction? The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. A lost sheep never finds its way back to the fold of itself. If it is not sought for and saved by the watchful shepherd, it wanders until it perishes. What a representation of the Saviour is this! Unless Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had come to seek and to save the wandering, we should have perished. The Pharisees had taught that none but the Jewish nation would be saved, and they treated all other nationalities with contempt. But Jesus attracted the attention of those that the Pharisees despised, and he treated them with consideration and courtesy. Because he did this, the Pharisees sought to bring a charge against him, and destroy his influence. ST November 20, 1893, par. 6

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This love on behalf of man, expressed in the gift of his only-begotten Son, called forth from Satan the most intense hatred, both toward the Giver and toward the priceless Gift. Satan had represented the Father to the world in a false light, and by this great Gift his representations were proved untrue, for here was love without a parallel, proving that man was to be redeemed by an inconceivable cost. Satan had tried to obliterate the image of God in man in order that as God looked upon him in his wretchedness, in his perverseness, in his degradation, he might be induced to give him up as hopelessly lost. But the Lord gave his only-begotten Son in order that the most sinful, the most degraded, need not perish, but, by believing on Jesus Christ, may be reclaimed, regenerated, and restored to the image of God, and thus have eternal life. ST November 20, 1893, par. 7