I BELIEVE TOO!
Jesus used the illustration of a lost sheep to teach the joy associated with its being found by a shepherd who values that one lost sheep enough to leave ninety nine in order to find it. We find that parable in Lk. 15:4-6. At the conclusion of that parable, Jesus said, "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." (Lk. 15:7) There is great significance in the fact that such earthly events summons such great attention in the heavenly realm among the angels. We should be every bit as impressed!
While some may wander far, there are those whose walk has not taken them as far into the wilderness of sin. But even these are in need of the Shepherd's staff to turn them toward the right way so they may be lead along with the rest of the flock by the Shepherd of their soul. We all must stay near our Shepherd and Savior, Jesus Christ.
There are those who have listened to a "strange voice" for nearly a life time, and then when they hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, they come in obedience to that new voice. Jesus said, "...other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd." (Jn. 10:16) When He said this, He was having reference to the Gentiles who would also be a part of the promise of God's grace, to join with those of the Jews who would come to Him through His Son in one body, which is the church. (See Eph. 1:22 - 3:13) We "...were called in one body." (Col. 3:15) The fact that Jesus referred to "other sheep" to be brought into His one flock, lets us know that those who are not a part of His flock are in need of entering His fold (sheepfold) in order to have the protection that is offered there. That is the message of Jn 10:1-18.
Unlike "older" sheep who are brought into His flock, there are those who are "young sheep" who likewise enter His fold. These "young ones" are those who have heeded the admonition of Solomon, who said, "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, 'I have no pleasure in them' " (Eccl. 12:1) These youths have enjoyed in their young life, guidance from parents who have pointed them in the direction of their Creator, as those who have heeded the words spoken by Moses when he said, "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deut. 6:6-9) How blessed are the young in Christ whose parents first had His "words" in their "hearts" and then shared it with them!
I'm reminded of a time when three of our young people had been baptized into Christ over a short period of time. They had been nurtured along by godly parents whose teachings and examples had brought them to this point in their lives. No doubt, the occasion of one's obedience to God's command of baptism for the remission of sins captures the attention of both angelic beings as well as mortals, both young and old. I was reminded of this one Sunday evening after one of those young people named Daniel had been baptized into Christ. As my family and I traveled home, our grandson, Ryan (almost 3 years old), asked why Daniel needed a "bath." His honest curiosity that prompted that question brought both smiles as well as a valuable opportunity to teach his very young heart. It was a ripe time to talk about what sin is and how God loves us and has made a way for us to "wash off those sins" so we can be clean in God's sight. What Ryan could not have fully understood yet is that such obedience "now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 3:21)
Earlier, on our way to the building where this baptism was to take place, there was much discussion regarding what was about to happen. Our granddaughter, Kaylea (almost 5 years old), was full of questions about what Daniel was about to do. The explanation to her was that Daniel was going to be baptized. Her response was to ask "Why is he going to be baptized?" What a wonderful opportunity for teaching! It was explained to her that Daniel was going to be baptized because "he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Her immediate response was an enthusiastic "I believe Jesus is God's Son too!" The implication of her declaration of faith was to say "why can't I be baptized too?" That reminds me of the Ethiopian eunuch who heard the gospel message and said, " 'See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?' Then Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him." (Acts 8:36-38) While Kaylea didn't understand all of the implications of such obedience, we were touched by her honest sincerity and that childlike spirit that was eager to hear and believe. Someday, Kaylea, when you understand the greatness of Christ's sacrifice, you may.
The conversation on the way home that followed centered around those in our family who have been baptized into Christ. Then Kaylea began asking about others whom we know who have not obeyed the gospel. Now it was time for her to teach us something. There are souls that are lost, who need to hear the Shepherd's voice, who needs the blood of His sacrifice, who needs to be brought into the protection of His fold. "What does it profit" if we see the lost and say, "be warmed and filled" but do not share with them that which is needed for the soul? (Read Jas. 2:14-26) Thanks, kids. - Gary V. Womack - December 2003