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Oh Yes, He Cares! His Heart is Touched With Your Grief!

Read: Matthew 18:12-13; Luke 15:1-7

 

Some old sayings should carry a warning label. Something like: "this is only sometimes true." I'm thinking of the adage that states that what we don't know won't hurt us. Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. For example, putting a bobby pin in an electrical outlet might look fun, and not knowing the effect it would have on a person's fingers could be quite painful. On the other hand, not knowing that bobby pins are a useful tool to hold hair in place is not vital knowledge. Both of the above statements about bobby pins are true, but only the first one really matters in the long run.

 

Sadly, there are people all around us who believe in a god of their own making. They believe that what they don't know about the God of the Bible won't hurt them. Many of these precious people belong to our families and many are cherished by our friends. These loved ones, for whom Jesus died are presently away from the Lord. They might have never belonged to Jesus or they might have walked far from Him. Whatever the case, they are deeply loved by parents, siblings and even children.

 

The verses we will see today are a sweet and strong reminder of Jesus' love for these who are lost. His love is not passive. He is the Seeker, Luke 19:10. In Luke 15:1-7; Matthew 18:12-13, we see Jesus' heart towards those who are lost. As is often true with little children, some aren't even aware that they are lost. Like little ones, they have strayed away, and they don't know the danger that might be all around them. Not knowing what is true doesn't negate that danger. No wonder the Shepherd Who loves the sheep, like the parent who loves the little child who has wandered away, seeks him with abandon. The Lord is pictured in these verses as loving those who already are His, but He continues to reach out to the lost ones. As we call out to Him in prayer on behalf of the lost ones that we love, our hearts are beating in tune with His. In 2 Peter 3:9, we read that Jesus' apparent slowness to return is the result of His love. He is patiently waiting for more people to be saved. Perhaps even those we love. I'm so thankful He understands the sorrow we experience as we pray for our prodigals. He experienced that sorrow when He wept over Israel's unbelief and rejection of Him as their Messiah, Luke 19:41-44. Yes, we know that His heart is touched with our grief. He is our sympathetic Savior.

 

This week, I read the story behind an old hymn, "The Ninety And Nine." This song was written as a poem by Elizabeth Clephane. It was her gift to children to help them understand the love of Jesus the Shepherd for His lost sheep. She wanted them to understand Matthew 18:12-13; however, because of the providence, her goal was merely the beginning of what God had in mind for that little poem. In 1874, Ira Sankey who was the music leader for D.L. Moody read that poem and cut it out of a newspaper. He carried it to an evangelistic meeting in Edinburgh Scotland where D.L. Moody was preaching. After another preacher had given a stirring message, Moody asked Mr. Sankey if he had an appropriate song to play and sing. Ira Sankey had the words of that poem but no notes to play and sing. He prayed and asked the Lord for suitable music so that the words of the poem could be clearly understood by those who had heard the message. He played an A flat and asked for the Lord to give the notes. His prayer was answered, and through God's grace, as is always the case when the lost are found, Ephesians 2:8-9, many lives were changed for eternity that day. That was only the first of many times that "The Ninety and Nine" was played and sung. What began as a children's poem went all around the world. Here are the words that picture Jesus' love for our precious prodigals. Yes, He cares for us and also for them.

 

1. There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold,

but one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of gold —

away on the mountains wild and bare,

away from the tender Shepherd’s care,

away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

 

2. “Lord, thou hast here thy ninety and nine; are they not enough for thee?”

But the Shepherd made answer: “This of mine has wandered away from me,

and although the road be rough and steep,

I go to the desert to find my sheep,

I go to the desert to find my sheep.”

 

3. But none of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed; nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed thro’ ere he found his sheep that was lost.

Out in the desert he heard its cry —

sick and helpless, and ready to die,

sick and helpless, and ready to die.

 

4. “Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way that mark out the mountain’s track?”

“They were shed for one who had gone astray ere the Shepherd could bring him back.”

“Lord, whence are thy hands so rent and torn?”

“They’re pierced tonight by many a thorn,

they’re pierced tonight by many a thorn.”

 

5. But all thro’ the mountains, thunder-riv’n, and up from the rocky steep,

there arose a glad cry to the gate of heav’n, “Rejoice! I have found my sheep!”

And the angels echoed around the throne,

“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own!

Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own!”

 

 

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