Read Matthew 18:10-14.
My mind wanders to a nursery rhyme: Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow, and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
If only sheep were so obedient.
Jesus is still talking about the children here, reminding his disciples not to look down on them, because their humility and trust is something to be admired. Then he asks them a rhetorical question. How do I know it’s rhetorical? Because he doesn’t give them a chance to answer. So, instead of saying, “what do you think?” he really could say, “don’t you know?”
What should we know? If there are a hundred sheep, and one wanders off, then it’s only natural that the owner or Good Shepherd will leave those ninety-nine that are all bunched up together and safe, and go to find that little lost lamb. And how happy he will be when he finds it.
Have you ever lost a child in a store? I lost one in an airport. Oh, my word, I cannot describe to you the feeling of desperation when I realized that my youngest was not in my sight. I started running from store to store in the terminal, calling his name, watching for him among the masses of people walking through the area. When I spotted him and called him to me, we literally ran to each other and just hugged in relief. I couldn’t be mad at him–he was a child. I was the one responsible for his safety, not him.
He didn’t even realize he was lost or wandering away. As a child, he was just naturally distracted by the pretty things that caught his attention. He didn’t realize that by following what was pleasing to his eyes, he was wandering away from the protection of his parents. It was only after we were no longer in each other’s sight that he came to the realization that he was lost.
Do I have someone in my care who needs me to be on the alert for their spiritual condition? Have I led someone to the Lord or am I discipling someone who is still wobbly in their walk with Jesus? They don’t realize that Satan will try to quickly distract them from this new-found faith; they’re just trying to keep up as best they can. It doesn’t take much–an old friendship, a bad habit, sudden success or even failure. They fall behind, get stuck in a hole, miss a meeting, stop reading their Bible.
What does Jesus say? In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. That’s why we’re to be disciple makers, teachers, under-shepherds of the flock he entrusts to us. We’re to encourage, build up, pray for, and yes…even go after those young in the faith.
How many lambs are in your care today? Watch out that they don’t wander off.