"That which was lost"

In the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, Christ Jesus states his earthly mission in these words: "The Son of man is come to save that which was lost." Then follows the beautiful and oft-quoted parable of the lost sheep, which is also given by Luke. However viewed, this parable strikingly presents the unchanging nature of divine Love, and shows how unfailingly it follows its own until the oneness of God and His manifestation is realized. It has been thought by many that the good shepherd went out to bring back one who was wilful and lawless; but in Christian Science we find another meaning for this parable, one which does not conflict with the idea of divine Love reaching out to human need, but which lifts thought from the material to the spiritual. We are helped to discover this when we ponder the definition of sheep as given on page 594 of Science and Health: "Innocence; inoffensiveness; those who follow their leader." This divine idea lies down in green pastures, beside the still waters of Soul; it fears no evil, even in passing through "the valley of the shadow of death," and is comforted alike by the rod and the staff of the shepherd.

When Christ Jesus went among men and saw the sick, the sinful, and the sorrowful, he knew that there was a sure remedy for their woes, and it was "that which was lost." Now it was quite possible to find at every turn of the way the densest belief in evil's reality and power; but to mortal sense the power which had brought the children of Israel safely through the Red sea, fed them in the wilderness, and assured them of freedom from disease, was "lost," and no one apparently knew where it was to be found. It is true that Daniel had known it when he was delivered from the lions, and his three companions when they came forth unharmed from the fiery furnace, but to those whose dependence was matter and material law the truth that heals and saves was lost.

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In Jesus' time there was one large fold, rigidly guarded by creed, dogma, and ceremonial; in our own day are many such folds, but the decree against the shepherds was written by Ezekiel in these words: "The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, ... neither have ye sought that which was lost." Then follows the cheering assurance that God will seek His own sheep and lead them to their fold "upon the high mountains of Israel." To divine Love His reflection can never be separated from Him, and the one who knows this as did the Master can always prove it. To him the divine idea, the sheep of Truth's pasture, was never lost, and though mortal sense held that Jairus' daughter had lost her life, and the woman who came unbidden to Simon's feast her innocence, Christ Jesus quickly revealed to each her true selfhood, which is never sick, sinful, or dead. It is not a depraved mortal which the good shephered, the eternal Christ, lays upon his shoulders and carries rejoicingly. No, that false concept is left behind, for "that which was lost" has taken its place; and who can measure the joy in heaven and earth over this restoration of the true!

Christ Jesus rightly called himself the "good shepherd." He declared that he had come to bring life "more abundantly" to those who would accept his teachings, and he gave what might be called the secret of his power in these words: "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father." But what did some say in comment upon this? "He hath a devil, and is mad." Well might he warn his own against wolves, especially those in sheep's clothing, which denied the Christ-power then and deny it today. But this denial can do nothing when the command "Feed my sheep" is heard and heeded. In many passages of our text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," our revered Leader patiently explains why the true idea has so long been lost sight of by the world, and on page 360 she assures all earnest Truth seekers that "they will find that nothing is lost, and all is won, by a right estimate of what is real."

Annie M. Knott.

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