Matthew Henry notes that, “No creature is more apt to go astray than a sheep.” A sheep without a shepherd is harassed (e.g. by wolves), he is hapless (without a clue), he is helpless, and he is hopeless—truly a tragic combination. A sheep lacks direction—but He is the Way; a sheep lacks discernment—but He is the Truth; a sheep lacks any defenses [“dead meat”]—but He is the Life!
As we consider at the tenderness of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, in Matthew’s gospel, chapter nine, we see the Lord’s POINT OF VIEW….(v. 36) that sheep are LOST, and they are objects of His tender love and compassion.
In the parable of the ninety-and-nine in Luke’s gospel, chapter fifteen, we see the Lord’s PERSONAL VALUATION (v. 4ff) that each sheep is of great worth to HIM, as demonstrated by the lengths to which He goes to save one sheep.
Then, in John’s Gospel, chapter ten, we see the Lord’s PROJECTED VISION….that there are “other sheep” that He would have come into the protection of His fold. We know from 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:1-4 that the “other sheep” extends to the entirely of mankind!
Biblical missions is wonderfully built upon these truths concerning the relationship of the Good Shepherd and the sheep. May we ask the Lord to give us His compassion for the lost sheep around us, understanding that each one is of great worth to Him, and that reaching the “other sheep” is a mandate for all that are safely within His fold. “The Lord is my shepherd!”
Written by Steve Anderson, Field Administrator with Baptist World Mission