My favorite stained-glass window in our church shows Jesus cradling a little lamb in his arms.
But if you focus on the figure of Jesus in the window, it’s possible to miss the background: a narrow path through a steep mountain pass. It’s possible to miss the point that rescuing a lost sheep is hard and dangerous work. In Luke 15, Jesus said it meant leaving the rest of the flock in the wilderness, and bringing back the lost one by slinging it over his shoulders. It was too big to be carried in his arms.
And why do sheep need to be rescued in the first place?
It’s because sheep follow their appetites. They get lost because they think only of themselves and their next meal. A lost sheep becomes helpless, frozen with fear, completely unable to save itself.
It’s no wonder that one of the most famous things Jesus said about himself is, “I am the Good Shepherd.” By far, the most beloved psalm is Psalm 23, which begins, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
In this crazy time, with a pandemic that seems to hang on forever, what if you really believed that Jesus is The Good Shepherd? What if you really believed that God came to rescue you, not just at great risk, but at infinite cost to himself?
What if we all believed it?