Tuesday, August 09, 2005

From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman

He Himself says in a parable, speaking of Himself, "What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing." [Luke xv. 4, 5.]

Observe, my brethren, it is here said that Christ, the Lord of Angels, condescends to lay the lost sheep on His shoulders: in a former passage of the Prophet Isaiah it was said that He should "gather them with His arm, and carry them in His bosom." By carrying them in His bosom is meant the love He bears them, and the fulness of His grace; by carrying them on His shoulders is signified the security of their dwelling-place; as of old time it was said of Benjamin, "the beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him ... and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between His shoulders;" [Deut. xxxiii. 12.] and again, of Israel, "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him." And again, in the Prophet Isaiah, "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth; their idols were upon the beasts and upon the cattle ... hearken unto Me, O house of Jacob ... which are carried by Me from the womb ... Even to your old age I am He, and even to hoary hairs will I carry you; I have made and I will bear, even I will carry, and will deliver you." [Deut. xxxii. 11. Isa. xlvi. 1-4.] He alone, who "bowed Himself and came down," He alone could do it; He alone could bear a whole world's weight, the load of a guilty world, the burden of man's sin, the accumulated debt, past, present, and to come; the sufferings which we owed but could not pay, the wrath of God on the children of Adam; "in His own body on the tree," [1 Pet. ii. 24.] "being made a curse for us," [Gal. iii. 13.] "the just for the unjust, that He might bring us unto God," "through the Eternal Spirit offering Himself without spot to God, and purging our conscience from dead works to serve the Living God." [1 Pet. iii. 18. Heb. ix. 14.] Such was the deed of Christ, laying down His life for us: and therefore He is called the Good Shepherd.


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