The Parable of the Lost Sheep
3. The Parable of the Lost Sheep
(Mt 18:12-14) “How think you? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, does he not leave the ninety and nine, and goes into the mountains, and seeks that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”
This is a parable. What feeling does this passage give you? In human language, the expression of parable is a figure of speech and is something within human knowledge. If had spoken such words in the Age of Law, people would feel that these words did not match God’s identity. However, as this passage was expressed by the Son of man in the Age of Grace, people feel that they are very comfortable, very warm, and very considerate. God was incarnated, and He appeared in the image of a man. In humanity He used a very suitable parable to express His heart’s voice, which represented God’s own heart’s voice, represented the work God would do in that age, and also represented an attitude God had toward man in the Age of Grace. From this attitude God had toward man, it can be seen that God likened everyone to a sheep, and if a sheep got lost, He would spare no effort to look for it. This represented a principle by which God worked on man when He was incarnated that time. God used such a parable to describe His determination and attitude in His working at that time. This was an “advantage” God incarnate had: He could speak to man and express His heart’s desires with human knowledge and with words of humanity. He explained or “translated” the profound and incomprehensible words of divinity to man in words and ways of humanity, which would be advantageous to man’s understanding His will and knowing what He would do. In addition, He could also talk with people in the position of a man and talk with people in human language and in the ways people could understand, and He could even speak and work with human language and knowledge, so that people would feel that God is amiable and approachable and see God’s heart. What do you see here? Is there any prohibition in God’s speaking and doing things? In man’s view, God could not possibly speak what He wanted to speak and do the works He wanted to do and express His own will with human knowledge and human language or in a human way. This was just man’s wrong imagination. God used such a parable, and this parable made man feel God’s realness and God’s sincerity and see God’s attitude toward man during that time. This parable aroused the people from their dream who had lived under the law for a long time, and also it encouraged generation after generation of people who lived in the Age of Grace. Through reading this parable, people know God’s sincerity in saving man and also know man’s weight in God’s heart.
Next, look at the last word in this passage: Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. Was this word of the Lord spoken by Himself or by the Father in heaven? Outwardly, it was spoken by the Lord Jesus, but His will represented God’s own will, so He said, “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” The people of that time only acknowledged the Father in heaven as God and the man they saw before their eyes just as one sent by the Father in heaven, who could not represent the Father in heaven, so the Lord Jesus must add such a word, so that they would clearly feel God’s will for them and also feel the trueness and accuracy of this word. Although this was a simple word, it was very considerate, and it manifested the Lord Jesus’ humbleness and hiddenness. No matter whether God was incarnated or worked in the spiritual realm, He was most clear about man’s inner being, knew best what man needed, and also knew what man was worried about and for what man was puzzled. So He added such a word. This word clearly revealed a problem hidden in men: Men all half-believed in what the Son of man said; in other words, when the Lord Jesus spoke, He must add such a precondition, “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish,” so that He could achieve the results of His speaking, make men believe the accuracy of His word, and improve the trustworthiness of His word. Thus it can be seen that when God became an ordinary Son of man, man’s relationship with God was so embarrassing, and the Son of man’s circumstance was so embarrassed. And it can be seen that the Lord Jesus at that time had so little place among men. By speaking such a word, actually He was telling men, “You can just rest assured; what I say does not represent My own will, but the will of the God in your hearts.” Isn’t this word very ironic to man? Although when God was incarnated to do His work, He possessed many advantages God’s person did not possess, He had to endure the doubts and rejections from man and also man’s numbness and obtuseness. It can be said that the course of the Son of man’s working was the course of His tasting man’s rejection and was also the course of His tasting man’s competition with Him, much more the course of His working personally to win man’s trust and conquer man constantly with what He has and is and with His substance. More than being incarnated to wage an on-the-spot war with Satan, God became an ordinary man to wage a fight with those who followed Him. In such a fight, with His humbleness, what He has and is, and His love and wisdom, the Son of man accomplished His work, gained the men He wanted to gain, and also won the status and position He should have, and He “returned” to His throne.
from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself (3)”
in A Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh