The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, November 17, 2022, comes to us from Elci Lima of São Paulo, Brazil.
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “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? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 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 persons who do not need to repent.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
When I was a child, the parable of the lost sheep was my favorite. I often asked my parents to tell it to me at bedtime. I found the story thrilling – the shepherd counting the sheep, realizing that one was missing, and going out to look for it despite the dangers. I always worried about the lost sheep, but felt such relief and happiness when it was brought back to safety. The message of this parable still brings me strength today.
As I think of the children around the world who face countless dangers and challenges, I remember our Good Shepherd who does not give up on us. Even in the face of challenges and problems that cause us fear, we can count on Christ’s faithfulness. We are called to share Christ’s love with others, and children need someone to walk with them and introduce them to the faithful Shepherd. My hope for all children is that when they feel insecure or afraid, they will know that Jesus, their Good Shepherd, is nearby – coming to bring them hope and peace.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is one of a trilogy of parables Jesus uses to help us understand the value of relationship with God. In the first two parables, we are told about a lost sheep and lost coin, along with the intensity at which they are sought and reclaimed. In the last parable, the prodigal son, Jesus flips the narrative and that which is lost – the son – realizes the value of his parental relationship and returns to his father.
What the first two parables underscore is the depth of love and compassion God has to pursue and reclaim those who have gone astray. The parable of the prodigal son highlights God’s patient restraint, much like a loving parent, waiting for those of us who have turned away to return. In each parable, we witness the love of God, demonstrated in different means, to encourage those who are lost and convict those who are wayward. May we find comfort in knowing God will never leave us alone and God is always ready to forgive when we repent.
Merciful God, make us sensitive to the needs of children. Help us to share your love with them so they may be certain they are never alone. In the name of Jesus. Amen
-- Elci Lima
Children’s ministries around the world.
Thought for the day:
How will I help children in need in my community today?