7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! 8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. 10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
I was taking a look at Matthew 8:12 on www.studylight.org and asked it to put it into context for me and the above is what it gave me. Take a moment now and read it again.
What caused me to take a closer look is that I read something in this particular verse that I have never read before. Many times I have heard it quoted that “Jesus leaves the ninety-nine for the one” and that’s it. But there’s more…
First, I have always thought this to mean that He would go looking for the unsaved and that’s a correct interpretation because that is true of Jesus. He was sent for that reason. God so loved us, Amen? But what I am seeing here is the word SHEEP. A sheep is one that is already saved…one under the care of the Shepherd. (The word refers to the sinner as GOAT.) So we see here that the Shepherd goes seeking for the one that is among the sheepfold who has strayed from the truth in some way and has become lost.
Secondly, and what caught my eye to begin with is where Jesus went looking for the sheep. This passage says that He went into the MOUNTAIN. Immediately what came to mind is that of Mark 11:23. “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” The mountain is the obstacle, the unwanted hindrance in our path to destiny. My first thought is that perhaps one of the sheep did not know or failed to exercise his God given authority and rather than “saying” unto the mountain, “be thou removed”, he thought he had to go into that mountain or should I say, “through that circumstance”. The Lord goes looking for that one, lost in their circumstances or taken in by the enemies lie, in the midst of the hindrance.
And then, after doing a bit more research…I realized that there is another mountain that the enemy will take us to, to try us and to test our faith. The mountain of Matthew 4:8-11. “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” The mountain of temptation. And Jesus knows it all too well and there, He overcame. And it’s there where He looks for us and has made a way of escape for us.
That’s what I found looking only at Matthew 8:12. But put it all in context and there is yet another very interesting picture coming together. In context, according again to www.studylight.org, we see that perhaps the sheep going astray, not using his God given authority and even being taken to the mountain of temptation comes by the way of offense. We know that there are certain metaphors used in the word to refer to the children of God. We are the sheep of His pasture and we are the body of Christ as well. We see beginning in Matthew 8:7, offense is the topic and because of it, parts of the body begin to be removed. He tells them then that when the body or the sheepfold begins to lose number, that He will go to seek that one out. That one who has brought the offense or even the one that the offense has cut off.
Offense is defined as this:
- the movable stick or trigger of a trap
- any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin
I feel that there is a strong warning in this. The spirit of offense is seeking at this time to scatter the sheepfold and to dismember the body and we need to be aware of it and keep our eyes on the Shepherd, our ear to His voice and stay connected to the body of Christ. The word says in Matthew 8:13, “if so be that he find it”…He rejoices over that sheep! How was it that the devil departed and the angels came and ministered unto Jesus in that mountain? It was because He was found there speaking the Word! IT IS WRITTEN was in His mouth and the Shepherd seeks out His word. The angels minister to it! We must keep the word in our mouths.