In Matthew 18:12-13, Jesus spoke a parable about a shepherd seeking out one lost sheep, and we can find this story repeated many times in his life. We read that He ministered to multitudes and healed them all. (Mt 8:16; Mt 12:15) He fed great crowds twice, multiplying the loaves and the fish with much left over. (Mt 14:21; Mt 15:38) Yet, the stories that touch our hearts are His tenderness toward individuals.
He sought out the man at the pool of Bethesda. (Jn 5:5) He traveled across the lake to set the demoniac free. (Mk 5:2) He went with Jairus to heal his daughter. (Mk 5:24) Time after time, it was the single sheep He sought.
In Matthew 13, He gave two parables which at initial glance seem to say the opposite of their meaning.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." (Mt 13:44-46)
Both parables describe a man finding treasure that He must obtain, and we must ask first who is “he”? It would seem that the man mentioned here is us and the treasure is our finding Christ. But in truth, the man is Christ, and we are the priceless treasure. Having found that one lost sheep, He sold all He had and purchased the field. We find this in Philippians 2:7-8, which says Jesus "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
He sold all His prestige, His divine glory, to live as a man and die a horrible death so that He could obtain the treasure that is you and me. We are the pearl of great price that the merchant man desired to obtain.
And He did DESIRE us. It wasn't simply God proving a point. Read these words in Ephesians from the Message Bible.
"How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (WHAT PLEASURE he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.” (Eph 1:3-6 MSG)
He took pleasure in saving us.
We are too focused on who we are in the flesh. In reality, I am just a woman from Polk County who likes to write. I made some huge mistakes in my life that put me in a terrible place. Yet, I know the God of the universe loved me so much He stepped into my life to rescue and redeem.
God desires us to walk confidently in our salvation. He has given His all so we might bring Him pleasure. Why, then, waste our words singing how unworthy we are? Why would we belittle His amazing gift?
"Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans HE TOOK SUCH DELIGHT in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us FOR GLORIOUS LIVING, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” (Eph 1:7-12 MSG)
God planned our glorious living, so that is what I determine to have. Even on a day when my joints ache and there's a task which seems too huge to face, even when I can't see past the fear swirling around me, I will persevere and seek God's truth. His truth sets us free. His Spirit provides liberty. (Jn 8:32;2Co 3:17) And He gave all to provide that for us.
See these words in their context. He spoke these parables while facing the cross. He'd come to obtain the treasure but still had to pay the price. Think of that the next time you’re apt to complain about people and events, and instead, choose to walk by faith and to walk in love because you were that one lost sheep He came to rescue, and He delighted in it.
Suzanne D. Williams, Author