The parable of the Lost Sheep is one of the great parables in the Bible because it is simple, understandable, and we recognize God and ourselves so vividly in it.
It is tremendously comforting to be reminded in such clear terms of God’s unending love for us.
When we are lost, God will stop at nothing to find us.
When we go astray, God will search to the ends of the earth to bring us back.
We cannot be reminded of that too often, because sometimes in our heart of hearts we find it difficult to believe that the Almighty and Everliving God would care that much about us.
As beautiful and important as I find that traditional interpretation, I’d like to try a different one today.
One thing you’ll find out about me is that I can’t stand the obvious sermon. I do not feel like I’ve really lived into studying a Bible text, and certainly haven’t preached on it well, unless the Holy Spirit helps me see a new and unique angle I’d never seen before.
And as my clergy friends will tell you, I sometimes play a little fast and loose with exegesis when I do that.
But I don’t care—if it helps us see God in ourselves and each other more clearly, than I’ve done my job.
So all that wind up is to say that I know I’m going way out on a limb with the interpretation I’m bring you today, and I’m asking you to join me just for the next few minutes.
If it leaves you cold, you can forget it during the Nicene Creed. But if it awakens something new in you, then thanks be to God.
So here is me bending this parable as far as I think it can possibly go.
All of Jesus’ parables function as analogies.
We read about the mustard seed and realize that it symbolizes our faith.
We read about the treasure hidden in the field and realize is symbolizes union with God.
And in this story, we traditionally picture ourselves as the sheep and God or Jesus as the shepherd.
But what if we flip that on its head?
What if God is the sheep and we are the shepherd?